Archive for the ‘How to’ Category

NEWS RELEASE: Presidential General Election Reminders

October 28, 2020

Presidential General Election Reminders

Early Voting Locations; Returning & Counting Absentee Ballots; Updated Election Day Polling Locations; Safety Precautions

LINN COUNTY, IA – October 28, 2020 – The Presidential General Election is Tuesday, November 3. Linn County Auditor’s Office reminds voters of the following information for this upcoming election.

Early Voting: Lindale Mall and 823 3rd St SW

Linn County voters have the option for in-person, early voting at two locations:

· Lindale Mall through Saturday, October 31 from 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m. each day.

· 823 3rd St SW (across the street from the Linn County Public Service Center) Mondays-Saturdays, including Monday, November 2. Hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

Voters must present an ID when voting in-person. Curbside voting is available at both locations.

Returning Absentee Ballots

Over 5,000 voters have not returned their mailed, absentee ballots. Voters can return their absentee ballots four different ways:

1. Mail their ballot. Ballots must be postmarked by Monday, November 2.

2. Drop their ballot in the white drop box at the Linn County Public Service Center, located at 935 2nd St SW in Cedar Rapids. Ballots must be in the drop box by 9 p.m. on Tuesday, November 3.

3. Bring their ballot and envelope to an early voting location (locations listed above).

4. Take their ballot and envelope to an Election Day polling location. Absentee ballots will be ‘spoiled,’ and a replacement ballot will be issued.

Voters can track their absentee ballots on the Iowa Secretary of State’s website.

Iowa law does not have any provisions nor mechanisms for a voter who has submitted a countable absentee ballot to replace that ballot with a new one for any reason, including that they changed their mind about which candidate they prefer in a race. While there are a small number of states that have such provisions, there would need to be legislation to change that in Iowa.

Counting Absentee Ballots

The Linn County Absentee and Special Voters Precinct Board (ASVP Board) will open absentee ballot envelopes on Saturday, October 31 from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. at the Linn County Public Service Center, as allowed by the Iowa Legislative Council. No ballots will be counted at that time.

Starting Monday, November 2, the ASVP Board will reconvene to continue opening absentee envelopes and begin counting ballots. The Board will continue counting absentee ballots through the evening and all day Tuesday, November 3.

The ASVP Board is a bi-partisan citizen group of Democrats and Republicans. The ASVP Board work must be done with bi-partisan pairs. For example, Democrat and Republican pairs open ballots together. Democrat and Republican pairs or groups also run the ballots through the ballot scanning machines. All ballots are kept locked and sealed throughout the ballot counting process.

The Republican Party and the Democratic Party are each allowed to send five poll watchers to view this process.

The number of returned absentee ballots is already very high, so the public is advised that full election results may be delayed until all absentee ballots received by the deadline are counted.

Updated Election Day Polling Places

On Election Day, November 3, voters will need to vote at their general election poll location. Due to COVID-19 and the derecho, many polling places have changed. The Auditor’s Office mailed a notice of updated polling places to all registered households in mid-October. To verify polling places, voters may enter their address into

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday, November 3, 2020. Curbside voting is available at each polling location on Election Day. A majority of precinct election officials at each polling place are balanced between registered Democrats and Republicans.

Election Day Safety Precautions

The Linn County Auditor’s Office will use a number of health and security precautions on Election Day to safeguard voters and election workers, including:

· All election workers will be required to wear masks.

· All voters will be offered a free mask.

· A designated cleaning person will sanitize voting surfaces throughout the day.

· Disposable pens will be used.

· Plastic dividers will separate voting areas.

· 6-foot markers will be on the floor for social distancing.

· Hand sanitizer will be available for all voters.

To ensure safety, Linn County Sheriff’s deputies will be providing a presence at all polling locations throughout the day.

Questions regarding voter registration or absentee voting can be answered by visiting elections or calling 319-892-5300, option 1.

A calendar with the Presidential General Election deadlines is also available on Linn County’s website. Posted by Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor & Commissioner of Elections

No printer, no paper – no problem

November 13, 2017

A couple of weeks ago, we started converting some of our forms to PDF fillable forms with e-Signatures. Figuring out how to add e-Signatures to our forms was the challenge and Dakota Softworks provided us with a solution.

While most of our current forms are for internal use, if you plan to vote in the upcoming Cedar Rapids Runoff Election. please consider using our Absentee Ballot Request Form – no paper or printer required.

If you notice a form that you think we should convert to PDF or PDF with e-Signature, please contact me. –Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

Currently available PDF fillable forms with e-Signature – no paper or printer required:


Federal W-4 Form

Iowa W-4 Form

Federal W-9 Form

Vendor Automatic Deposit Agreement

Employee Automatic Deposit Agreement

Lost & Found Form


Mailing Address Change Form


Absentee Ballot Request Form

Cedar Rapidians: Plan to vote in the 12/5 runoff election!

November 8, 2017

On 3 December 2013, a runoff election was held in the City of Cedar Rapids and 8.75% of the registered voters cast a ballot. Yesterday, 20.29% (unofficial) of the City’s registered voters cast a ballot. The irony in the 2013 Runoff is that the top vote getter (Swore) in the regular city election collected more votes (7,950) than were cast between the four candidates in the runoff (7,896). Maybe the framers of the Charter for the City of Cedar Rapids thought that less participation in a runoff was a great way for the runoff winners to begin their terms, but it is certainly no mandate by the voters.

Maybe Clark Rieke is right? He has been pushing instant runoff voting (IRV) aka ranked choice voting since I was nominated to run for county auditor in December of 2006. Maybe the Cedar Rapids Charter should be changed from a runoff election to a primary election? IRV is not an option in Iowa unless the Legislature changes our laws to allow it. And I do not see any incentive for a Charter Commission to change CR’s Charter. So what can I do to get every person engaged in local government?

The least I can do if to inform every household in the City of Cedar Rapids that we are having an election on December 5th. The Auditor’s Office will do that via the attached postcard or something similar. Far too often, eligible voters tell me that they did not know an election was coming. And who expects an election in December after Thanksgiving and before Christmas? We have not had an election in December in four years.

So I am going to bite the bullet and spend my budget on these postcards and hope the City of Cedar Rapids reimburses me for the cost. And if they do not, I will eat the cost.

My team and I are going to do our best to lower the obstacles to participate in the December 5th Cedar Rapids Runoff Election. You can do your part by voting early or on election day, and by encouraging your fellow Cedar Rapidians to vote. Please note, the decision to mail out these postcards is my decision and my decision alone. At this time, I have not received any requests or comments about the postcards because it was conceived by me. –Joel D. Miller – Linn County AuditorVision: Every person engaged in local government.

Cedar Rapids.pdf

CR Runoff Election 12-3-2013.pdf

Township officials receive 25% pay increase

March 23, 2016

Today, the Linn County Board of Supervisors approved an increase in the hourly rate paid Linn County’s township officials, i.e., from $10 per hour to $12.50 per hour – a 25% increase.  I recommended a 50% increase for two reasons:  1>  once you become a township official, you may be an official for life and 2>  pay has been at $10.00 per hour since 2/8/2006.

Linn County has 19 townships with about half of the officials appointed by the Board and the other half elected.  At some point in time, some townships should be consolidated because the number of residents in the townships versus the incorporated areas of the county continues to dwindle.  And because few residents want to be saddled with the legal responsibilities of a township for so little pay.

If you are interested in becoming a township official, view the video below of a recent training session held in Linn County.  -Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

Incumbents need opponents

March 22, 2016

On 7/13/2012, I posted COMPETITION on this blog.  Not much has changed four years later except Supervisor Langston is not seeking re-election.  In fact, last week, she told me that her last day of work will be on or about 4/15/2016.

With the exception of Mr. Randy Ray running against Supervisor Oleson, no one has filed to run against Supervisor Rogers, Sheriff Gardner, or Auditor Miller – me.  And thus far, Mr. Stacey Walker, who was recruited by Langston, is the only candidate to file to run for Langston’s position.

Obviously, several thousand residents are unhappy with the status quo of the Board of Supervisors or the petitioners wanting to reduce the number of Supervisors on the Board would not be getting several hundred signatures per day.

But going from unhappy to filing for office seems to be a major leap for the 3-4 residents who should be stepping forth to challenge the unchallenged incumbents including me.

Every incumbent needs to be challenged – even me – to keep us from becoming complacent, to keep us from taking our customers for granted, to keep us from becoming arrogant, and to keep us as engaged in our jobs as we were the first day we took office.

Incumbents need to be asked questions.  Incumbents need to be held accountable.  And incumbents need to come up with new ideas for running their offices.  And none of those things occur unless they are challenged by an opponent.

I am reminded of my father who was a State Representative for ten years.  He was elected to office on his third attempt.  The first and second time he ran was to ensure his opponent was challenged – he did little campaigning.  The third time  he ran, he actively campaigned and won that election, and several other elections thereafter.

Democracy is not a spectator sport!  So collect some signatures and file your papers by 5pm on March 30th, and get on the ballot.  The video below explains exactly how to do it.  -Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

How to fill out an ABRF (Spanish instructions)

December 28, 2015

Anyone following Iowa’s general elections has certainly observed the increased use of absentee ballots (aka early voting) starting with the 2000 presidential election through today.  For the 2016 presidential election, Linn County Election Services is preparing for the possibility that one-half of the County’s registered voters may vote PRIOR to election day.

One proposal being touted by me and other county commissioners of elections (aka county auditors) is to allow for permanent absentee ballot requests to remain on file so voters would not have to submit a request for each upcoming election.  That simple change in election law would give county commissioners the data they need to lower the cost of elections on election day, e.g., by reducing the number of employees at each polling place and by reducing the number of paper ballots being printed.  More on this proposal at a later date.

The following Spanish language video was created to aid those citizens who are more fluent in Spanish than in English in filling out an Iowa Absentee Ballot Request Form (ABRF).  Comments or inquiries should be addressed to Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor.

How to fill out a Voter Registration Form (Spanish instructions)

December 14, 2015

According to the US Census Bureau, the largest non-English speaking minority in Linn County speaks Spanish.  To assist US citizens who are more fluent in Spanish than English, I asked Mr. Edwin Valladares – Linn County’s Voter Outreach Coordinator – to create a Spanish language video on How To Fill Out An Iowa Voter Registration Form – a form which is only valid in English per Chapter 1.18 of the Code of Iowa.

If you have any questions after viewing the video, please contact me directly at 319-892-5333 or at – Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

How to fill out an Iowa Voter Registration Form

December 10, 2015

Over the years, Iowa’s Commissioner of Elections (the Secretary of State) and Iowa’s County Commissioners of Elections (the 99 County Auditors) have simplified the official voter registration form; yet, our office and likely offices across the State continue to receive incomplete or improperly completed forms, i.e., unacceptable forms.  These unacceptable forms require elections personnel to issue letters and take additional steps which can become quite a burden on resources during presidential election years.

In order to try to reduce the number of unacceptable forms arriving at our office, we have produced a video on How To Fill Out An Iowa Voter Registration Form.

If you have any questions after viewing the video, please contact Election Services at 319-892-5300 option 1. – Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

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