Archive for the ‘Elections’ Category

Linn Auditor encourages eligible felons to register to vote

September 22, 2020

Last week, the Linn County Auditor’s Office mailed a letter to 4,561 felons thought to be eligible to register to vote in Linn County based upon the Governor’s recent executive order. Anecdotal replies to our Office from the recipients of this letter are encouraging.

In Iowa, felons’ rights to vote can be confusing. Please reach out to Election Services at 319-892-5300 option 1 or email Election Services if you have any questions.  Posted by Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor & Commissioner of Elections

Plan on encountering unmasked voters in Linn County on Election Day

September 21, 2020

About a week ago, I raised a ruckus when I posted on social media that masks will not be required for citizens voting on Election Day.  I didn’t make this up as it came from an Iowa Secretary of State training session on 8/20/2020.  KCRG-TV aired a story in which I stated the same, and the next day, we lost a half dozen precinct election officials.

We can and we will require masks to be worn when early/absentee voting is underway at our satellite polling places because in-person early/absentee voting is NOT a constitutionally protected right.

So when is the best time to go to the polls on Election Day to avoid unmasked voters?  Based upon my projections, about one voter per minute is going to arrive at the polls.  Of course, that’s an average.

We know from past elections that about 50% of citizens vote at the polls between 7am-3pm, and the other 50% vote from 3pm-9pm.  We also know that mid-morning, i.e, after 8am, may be the best time to avoid other voters.

Nothing is normal about this election and I still stand by advising you to vote-by-mail.  If you cannot or will not do that, then vote in-person (and curbside/drive through) at one of our satellites … especially if your goal is to avoid unmasked voters.

Of course, if you think I’ve made an error in my projections or you want an explanation on the numbers, please reach out to me.

Yes, we will be offering face masks to all persons entering a polling place on Election Day, but we cannot require persons to wear them.

Do plan on encountering unmasked voters at the polls on Election Day … because you will.  Joel D Miller — Linn County Auditor & Commissioner of Elections

Election officials should baseline the USPS now

August 5, 2020

One of my biggest fears with the upcoming general election is that my office mails out 80,000 to 100,000 absentee ballots on October 5th, and 10,000 of them are not returned in time to be counted.

Who will handle the majority of absentee ballots returned to my office?  The United States Postal Service.

A few days ago, Jim Conklin reached out to me on LinkedIn and shared the video below:

On 8/4/2020, I started driving to the 18 post offices in Linn County that serve Linn County’s voters.  Purpose:  To set a baseline so we can measure if the cost cutting and other measures undertaken by the USPS between now and 11/3/2020 may have a detrimental effect on the return of absentee ballots via the USPS.

My initial baseline is posted here.  I will continue to provide updates as they occur on this post.  And then we can answer questions like:

When should I mail my absentee ballot?  Should I bypass the USPS and use one of the drop boxes provided by the Auditor’s Office?  Should the Auditor’s Office install additional drop boxes in “slow mail” areas?

Your comments and suggestions are welcome.  My decision to baseline the USPS was based upon concerns expressed by Mr. Conklin and others.  Posted by Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

 

 

Supervisor Oleson not running for re-election

August 3, 2020

It’s official. Linn County Supervisor Brent Oleson will not be running for re-election in the upcoming general election – see link below. Posted by Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

2222_001.pdf

Joint statement from Linn & Johnson County Auditors regarding letter from RNC

July 27, 2020

Joint statement from Linn and Johnson County Auditors regarding letter from Republican National Committee (RNC)

Iowans have a hard-earned time-tested tradition of holding fair and free elections, uncontaminated by the efforts of outside pressure groups. That unique tradition is a part of what we sometimes call the “Iowa Way.”  Consistent with that tradition, our offices are making every effort to give active voters in Linn and Johnson Counties all reasonable options to assure that every vote counts and can be cast in the safest ways possible.

An important part of those safe-voting efforts has been to send, in sealed envelopes to their last known addresses, to every active voter—regardless of party affiliation—absentee ballot request forms with correct voter identification information included on the forms, so that they can be returned to our offices, where we serve as the County Commissioners of Elections, so that absentee ballots can be issued to those voters starting on October 5th.

It is extremely concerning that the Republican National Committee is placing pressure on Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate to impede our efforts to make voting easier and safer for Iowans during a pandemic.  This is as wrong as it is unprecedented.  Secretary Pate would be wise to ignore this pressure to contaminate Iowa’s storied fair election processes.  Let him perform his job, too, consistent with the Iowa Way, unsullied by outside influences.   Signed (and posted) by Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor and Travis Weipert – Johnson County Auditor

 

Linn County Auditor puts Iowa Secretary of State on notice

July 11, 2020

On July 2nd, I put the public on notice that I intended to mail out absentee ballot request forms (ABRF) to include a voter’s personal identification number (PIN), to every active voter in Linn County – see link in my email.

On July 6th, the Iowa Secretary of State put me on notice that I could not send my voters a prefilled ABRF with their PIN.

Today, July 11th, I’m giving the SoS notice of my intent to start mailing ABRFs including PINs on July 20th.

Stay tuned,

Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor & Commissioner of Elections

***********************************************************************

Molly M. Widen – Legal Counsel

Office of Iowa Secretary of State Paul D. Pate

Via email

11 July 2020

Dear Ms. Widen:

RE:  Notice of intent to mail prefilled absentee ballot request forms to Linn County’s active voters

On July 6th, I received the email below from Director of Elections Heidi Burhans, which indicates, “The ID Number field can NOT be pre-populated ….” onto prefilled absentee ballot request forms (ABRF) mailed to voters.

I, as the County Auditor of Linn County, duly authorized as the County Commissioner of Elections, and as a custodian of voter records, including Voter Identification Numbers and Four-digit PINs (personal identification numbers), DO NOT AGREE with the Director’s statement.

I believe that in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, those who are privileged to administer the election process must do everything reasonably possible to assist voters’ participation in a safe manner.  As the Secretary of State demonstrated in the state’s recent primary election, safe voting through the use of mailed ballots is a choice that many Iowans prefer.

To that end, I believe that absentee ballot request forms should be made readily available to the voters in my county, and I am taking action to assure that access.

The purpose of this email is to give the Office of Iowa Secretary of State Paul D. Pate notice of my intent to mail, in a sealed envelope addressed to each ACTIVE registered voter in Linn County, at the address best known to our office after diligent searches, sent via First Class USPS postage, a prefilled ABRF including the voter’s Four-digit Voter PIN (personal identification number).

Samples of actual ready-to-mail prefilled ABRFs are attached to this email for your information and records.  The names, dates of birth, and PINs have been redacted from these ready-to-mail ABRFs.  In each instance, an ACTIVE registered voter’s PIN will be prefilled onto the form along with the voter’s personal information.

The Office of Linn County Auditor has already expended public funds in anticipation of mailing these prefilled ABRFs.  I am giving you notice that these ABRFs will be delivered to the USPS (United States Postal System) starting on Monday, 20 July 2020.

My office gave notice to the public of its intent to send out prefilled ABRFs via a news story published in The Gazette, the County’s official newspaper, on 2 July 2020 – see The Gazette

Linn County’s voters are expecting my office to mail them prefilled ABRFs including their Four-digit PIN so that they might proceed promptly in requesting absentee ballots.

The basis for any objection to me assisting active registered voters in the manner described is not clear.  However, to the extent that there is a genuine difference of opinion grounded in public records law, I know that Iowa law provides prompt access to the Iowa District Court to address such objections.

To that end, please know of my intent (unless otherwise directed by a Court exercising jurisdiction over this matter) to start delivering prefilled ABRFs (mailed in the manner described herein) to the USPS on 20 July 2020.

Regards,

Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

2 redacted ready-to-mail Linn County ABRFs 7-11-2020.pdf

**************************************************************

From: Burhans, Heidi [SOS] <Heidi.Burhans@sos.iowa.gov>
Sent: Monday, July 6, 2020 2:41 PM
To: Burhans, Heidi [SOS] <Heidi.Burhans@sos.iowa.gov>
Cc: Widen, Molly [SOS] <Molly.Hammer@sos.iowa.gov>; Hicok, Wes [SOS] <Wes.Hicok@sos.iowa.gov>; Livingood, Heather [SOS] <Heather.Livingood@sos.iowa.gov>; Kramer, Lance [SOS] <Lance.Kramer@sos.iowa.gov>; Cole, Dale [SOS] <Dale.Cole@sos.iowa.gov>
Subject: Absentee Ballot Request Mailer

Dear County Auditors, Deputies and Staff:

We understand that many counties are going to issue a countywide mailing of absentee ballot request forms to their voters, and some counties plan to pre-populate the fields with voters’ details.

The ID Number field can NOT be pre-populated because it is considered a confidential record per Iowa Code §22.7.72–73. The voter verification number is defined in §53.2(4)(c).

Please contact either Molly or me with any questions regarding this topic.

Heidi L. Burhans – Director of Elections – Office of Secretary of State Paul D. Pate

CVCV059748: Linn County Auditor v Iowa Voter Registration Commission … continued

July 9, 2020

If you are interested in good government and the security of Iowa’s Voter Registration System (IVoters) as we march towards the November 3rd general election, then call into the Judicial Review Hearing on the above case at 10am CDT on Friday, 10 July 2020 using the call-in information below. I have attached all of the relevant legal briefs filed with the Court since the VRC dismissed my complaint on a 2-1 vote in January 2020.

For the hearing on Friday, please:

  1. Call 1-866-866-2244;
  2. Dial Code 5280374#

**************************************************

Sent: Mon, Jul 6, 2020 8:48 am
Subject: CVCV059748: LINN COUNTY AUDITOR VS IOWA VOTER REG COMM

Counsel,

A Judicial Review Hearing is set for Friday, July 10 , 2020, at 10AM in front of Judge Porter. Judge Porter’s order filed on May 21, 2020, order indicates that the moving party shall establish a conference line with the non-moving party. Will the moving party email me the conference line phone number so Judge Porter may call into it at the time of the hearing?

Please let me know.

Mariko Lee
Judicial Specialist for the Honorable David M. Porter
Fifth Judicial District
Polk County Criminal Courthouse
110 6th Avenue, Room 420
Des Moines, IA 50309
(515) 286 – 3711
Mariko.Lee

Posted by Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor & Commissioner of Elections

REPLY BRIEF_JudicialReview.FINAL.docx

05771__CVCV059748_BRIF_84.PDF

Miller – Brief on Judicial Review – 4.23.20 – As Filed.pdf

56820031_71084657_Answer.pdf

05771__CVCV059748_OROT_8047456.Joel Miller Order Proceedings.PDF

Petition for Judicial Review.rev.dsc.final.jcl.docx

VRC decision.pdf

Miller.HAVA.Post Hearing Brief – Case #2019-01 – Final – 1.16.20.pdf

Notice of Appearance of Larew – Case #2019-01 – 1.16.20.pdf

Signed – Request for hearing – Case #2019-01 – 1.16.20.pdf

HAVA Post hearing final.pdf

Vote by mail ain’t broke – don’t fix it

June 4, 2020

By all accounts, Iowa’s June 4th primary election was a resounding success. More citizens than ever participated, and while we won’t know for maybe two weeks whether anyone who worked at the polls or went to the polls left with Covid19, an overwhelming number of voters voted by mail using Iowa’s absentee ballot process.

So why is someone floating convoluted legislation to ban the Iowa Secretary of State from again mailing out absentee ballot request forms to every active registered voter before the November general election? [See attached HF2486] Evidently, someone in the Iowa Legislature has it out for voters who took advantage of the vote-by-mail process. Or they just want to discriminate against voters like me, who are over the age of 60. The interesting fact about the voters who used the vote-by-mail process is that in 64 of Iowa’s 99 counties, Republican voters were a majority of the voters who took advantage of the absentee ballot process and voted absentee. [See attached AbsenteeCounty2020]

We are all familiar with the saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” I don’t know who the author(s) of the attached version of HF2486 are, but unless this is a late arriving April Fool’s Joke, they need to focus on the original intent of HF2486, which was to fix the problem they created when they required us to put the County Treasurer’s seal on our official ballots – see https://www.legis.iowa.gov/legislation/BillBook?ga=88&ba=hf2486

Vote by mail ain’t broke. Don’t fix it. – Posted by Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

HF2486.pdf

AbsenteeCounty2020 – More Rs voted absentee than Ds in 64 counties.pdf

NEWS RELEASE: Primary Election: Absentee Ballots and Early, In-Person Voting

April 24, 2020

For more information, contact:

Rebecca Stonawski

Deputy Commissioner of Elections

319-892-5300, ext. 1

elections

Primary Election: Absentee Ballots and Early, In-Person Voting

County Offices to Appear on the 2020 Primary Election Ballot

LINN COUNTY, IA – April 23, 2020 – The Linn County Auditor’s Office has received over 10,000 absentee request forms for the June 2 Primary. This far surpasses recent primary elections.

In the 2018 Primary, 1,520 absentee ballots were requested. In the 2016 Primary, 2,075 absentee ballots were requested.

The Auditor’s Office will be mailing the first 5,274 absentee ballots today, Thursday, April 23. Another 5,000 are expected by the end of next week.

Auditor Joel Miller states, “We appreciate the community’s responsible choice to vote from home. We encourage voters to request an absentee ballot, and we appreciate their patience as we process these requests.”

In-person, absentee voting will also be available at a drive-through location near the Linn County Public Service Center at 823 3rd St SW in Cedar Rapids. Voters will be processed curbside. This early voting option will be available May 4-June 1, 2020 from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday, and on Saturday, May 30.

Due to COVID-19, election day polling locations will be reduced to 19 sites. In mid-May, the Linn County Auditor’s Office will send a postcard mailer to all registered households in Linn County indicating their temporary, combined voting locations. Voters may also view their temporary voting location by entering their address at: www.linncountyelections.org/lookup

Additional information may be found at LinnCounty.org/Vote.

For questions regarding this election, call the Linn County Election Services Office at 319-892-5300, ext. 1 or email elections Posted by Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor & Commissioner of Elections

Court scheduled to hear appeal on Voter Registration Commission decision

February 18, 2020

On 7/10/2020, a Polk County (Iowa) district judge is scheduled to hold a hearing on my appeal of the recent decision made by the Iowa Voter Registration Commission (VRC) on my HAVA complaint on the Iowa Secretary of State. I would have preferred that the Court hold the hearing prior to the June 2nd primary election.

The purpose of this appeal is to ask the District Court to order the VRC to fulfill its duty by holding a contested case hearing in which records can be subpoenaed and witnesses can be cross-examined – neither of which occurred in any of the VRC’s proceedings leading up to its decision. Time is of the essence and the security of our election systems in Iowa needs to be thoroughly scrutinized to ensure we have minimized our vulnerabilities. Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor & Commissioner of Elections

1a – Civil Original Notice – 2.13.20.PDF

1b – Petition for Judicial Review.PDF

1c – Exhibit A.PDF

1c – Exhibit B.PDF

1c – Exhibit C.PDF

2a – Order Establishing Schedule – 2.17.20.PDF

2b – Order.PDF


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