Archive for the ‘Litigation’ Category

Iowa Supreme Court denies Linn Auditor’s and Teig’s appeals

September 17, 2020

Justice denied.

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

Appeal020 Order Denying Application 091620.pdf

Pate’s consumer fraud complaint against Miller resolved

September 11, 2020

Today, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller (no relation) issued a reply to Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate’s allegation that I violated Iowa’s Consumer Fraud Act. AG Miller will not be proceeding with an investigation per the reasons included in the letter.

I do admit that I am guilty of trying to make voting easier while maintaining the integrity of system. I am not guilty of anything more. Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor & Commissioner of Elections

Pate letter 9.11.2020 fnl.pdf

AG Miller Letter 8 25 20.pdf

Gookin analysis 8 25 20.pdf

NEWS RELEASE: Action steps following prefilled absentee mailer decision

August 27, 2020

Per my previous post, i.e., Thornhill grants temporary injunction, here is the follow up news release. If you have questions, concerns, or comments, please send them to Auditor Miller.  I will be monitoring LiveChat from time to time this evening at https://direct.lc.chat/11882391/ , which is another way to reach me.

Unfortunately, the County’s phone system is still out of service due to the Derecho and I will not be granting any on camera interviews until tomorrow afternoon. Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

For Immediate Release

August 27, 2020

Action Steps Following Absentee Mailer Decision

LINN COUNTY, IA – August 27, 2020 – The Linn County Auditor’s Office acknowledges the August 27, 2020 court decision involving the Republican National Committee et al vs. Joel Miller.

Absentee Ballot Request Forms

In accordance with the decision, the Linn County Auditor’s Office will be voiding each Linn County absentee request form which was prefilled with voter information. Absentee request forms from other organizations will continue to be considered valid, unless the application lacked any required information. As before, the Auditor’s Office will notify voters of incomplete applications.

The Linn County Auditor’s Office will mail a new absentee ballot request form and return envelope to each impacted voter in mid-September. In addition, the Secretary of State will be sending separate absentee request forms to all voters in the next few weeks. Voters may also access a new request form at LinnCounty.org/Vote.

Voters only need to submit one request form. However, voters should rest assured that even if they submit multiple requests, they will only receive one ballot. The Auditor’s Office keeps track of every submitted request, but it only allows one ballot per person. That is, one voter = one ballot.

In accordance with state law, the Auditor’s Office will mail ballots starting Monday, October 5. Voters have until 5 p.m. on Saturday, October 24 to submit absentee request forms.

Voting Options

Voters may choose to vote using the following voting options:

Election Day Voting

Election day polling places will be open. Note that due to COVID-19 and the derecho storm, many polling locations will change. The Linn County Auditor’s Office will be publishing the November 3, 2020 polling places within the next few days. Each registered voter household will receive a postcard indicating their updated polling location in early October.

In-person Early Voting

The Linn County Auditor’s Office will offer early, in-person voting opportunities at Lindale Mall and at 823 3rd St SW in Cedar Rapids across from the Linn County Public Service Center. Early voting will begin October 5. Exact times will be distributed to the media in the next week.

Mailing Absentee Ballots

Absentee voters may return their ballot by mail. Ballots returned by mail must be postmarked on or before Monday, November 2, 2020 in order to be counted.

Drop Boxes

Drop boxes are in place as an alternative to mailing absentee ballots. The Linn County Auditor’s Office has four secure drop boxes for voters to deposit their absentee ballot request forms and ballots. These drop boxes are on 24/7 video security and contents are collected by a bi-partisan Republican and Democrat team each weekday. The drop boxes are located at:

o Linn County Public Service Center, 935 2nd St. SW, Cedar Rapids

o Marion Hy-Vee, 3600 Business Highway 151, Marion

o Edgewood Hy-Vee, 5050 Edgewood Rd NE, Cedar Rapids

o Johnson Avenue Hy-Vee, 1843 Johnson Ave NW, Cedar Rapids

The drop boxes will be open until 9 p.m. on election day, Tuesday, November 3, 2020.

Auditor Miller is continuing to consult with legal counsel regarding his options.

The Auditor’s Office acknowledges the confusion and concerns that voters may have. Questions regarding absentee voting may be answered by visiting elections. or calling 319-892-5300, option 1. Phone service may be temporarily unavailable. As of Thursday, August 27, the Linn County Auditor’s Office phone is not working due to the impact of the derecho storm. As a reminder, Linn County offices are open by appointment only due to COVID-19. To schedule an appointment with the Auditor’s Office, call the number above or email elections ###

Thornhill grants temporary injunction

August 27, 2020

Judge Thornhill granted a temporary injunction in RNC v Miller. Press release from the Office of Linn County Auditor coming soon. Joel D Miller – Linn County Auditor

Thornhill Order Granting Injunction.PDF

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

LULAC scores major victory for Latino voters in Iowa

October 2, 2019

Editor’s Note: I testified in this case along with the Polk County Auditor, the Johnson County Auditor, and others. Everyone – the Iowa Secretary of State, the Iowa Democratic Party, and LULAC are claiming victory so the judge evidently made the correct decision. I hope that means none of the parties will be appealing the decision?

Now, anyone eligible to vote is eligible for a Voter ID PIN card as soon as the I-Voters system is upgraded to allow us to issue PIN cards. This change should be especially beneficial for those voters who reside in independent or assisted living facilities, who do not have the physical ability to travel to Iowa DOT stations to cancel or renew their DOT issued cards; and therefore, were ineligible to receive PIN cards.

If you have any questions or concerns about voting and/or the judge’s decision, please call your local county auditor’s office. Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor (319-892-5300) ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌

Contact: David Cruz | (818) 689-9991 | davidcruz

LULAC Scores Major Victory For Latino Voters in Iowa

Nation’s Oldest & Largest Latino Civil Rights Organization Sees a Win Against Voter Suppression Legislation in the State

Washington, DC – A District Court Judge in Iowa issued an important ruling Tuesday in a major win for LULAC by overturning several major elements of a voter suppression law that was passed by the state legislature in 2017. The judge’s ruling sends a clear message to those who would attempt to violate our right to vote.

“This is a victory for our community throughout the United States,” says Domingo Garcia, National LULAC President. “Most especially, this ruling recognizes the sacrifice Latinos and Hispanics have made in the struggle to ensure our civil rights and especially the right to vote,” he added.

The decision by Judge Joseph Seidlen rejected requirements that Iowa voters must provide a voter ID number to get an absentee ballot or that people who could not produce a driver’s license or ID issued by the state could be denied a voter ID card. Also thrown out was a rule that rejected votes from people based on a person’s signature.

“LULAC worked hard in Iowa to make our community aware of the legal requirements for voting and this decision vindicates all our effort,” said Joe Henry, President of Council 307 and Special Advisor to the President. “On all counts, the court’s ruling clears the way now for our Latino votes to play a major role in 2020 and we’re going to continue urging Latinos to make their voice heard,” he added.

Iowa has a growing Latino community in the state and already 70% of adult Latinos and Hispanics are registered to vote. Now, LULAC is working to boost Latino voter turnout by another 25,000 to show the country that our community will play a decisive role in the 2020 primaries and general elections.

“We must continue to be diligent and determined in fighting voter suppression whether it’s in Iowa or anywhere else in America,” says Nick Salazar, Iowa State Director. “This legal ruling is an important step but we have to stay alert in our local polling places, county election centers and state capitols to ensure our votes are counted,” he concluded.

The following is a summary of the judge’s ruling —

  • The court permanently enjoined the signature match provisions for absentee ballots finding that they violate the Iowa Constitution.
  • The court permanently enjoined the State from saying that an ID number is required to request an absentee ballot and it leaves in place an earlier ruling that county auditors may complete an absentee application that is missing an ID number using the state’s voter records. The temporary injunction against considering the ID number at all was dissolved.
  • Finally, although the court said that the overall voter ID requirement is constitutional, it required the Secretary of State to permit county auditors to provide all registered voters with a free Voter ID Card upon request.
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Will Board of Supervisors get sued?

September 14, 2017

Yesterday (9/14/2017), Linn County Supervisor Brent Oleson filed a letter (see attachment) from Nyemaster Good PC – a law firm – into the Board’s official records. Oleson indicated during his public comments that this letter was the result of the resolution he initiated last week.

I think that the Board of Supervisors has a high probability of getting sued because of Oleson’s resolution, which he and three of his fellow Supervisors approved. Time will tell if his resolution benefitted Cedar Crossing. Frankly, I think the Board’s resolution hurt Cedar Crossing’s proposals. -Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor
20170913105635121.pdf

We are going to get sued

June 9, 2017

Governing magazine does a great job of gleaning news stories (see below) from around the country.  I have been reading the majority of its stories related to voter ID laws.

Even though Iowa’s recently signed Voter ID law was said to be put together to avoid the litigation occurring in other states, I have concluded – based upon the various legal challenges occurring in other states – that some county auditors – likely the Polk, Linn, and/or Johnson County Auditors – are going to get sued over the new Voter ID laws we are now responsible for administering.

I believe every county auditor in Iowa will make best efforts to keep any eligible voter from being disenfranchised on Election Day.  I believe that no matter how hard we try, our public education efforts on the new Voter ID law will not reach everyone.  And finally, I believe the end result will be that someone’s ballot, which would have been counted under the old laws, will not be counted under the new Voter ID law.

So if one voter impersonation case in the last decade or two was the motivator to change our election laws this year, then it’s reasonable to foresee that one voter, disenfranchised by the new Voter ID law, will be the motivator for someone to file a lawsuit against a county and/or the State in the future.  –Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

 

 

NEWS RELEASE: Linn & Johnson County Auditors Request SoS Rescind Request on Felon Database

April 5, 2017

For more information, contact:

Joel D. Miller Travis Weipert

Linn County Auditor Johnson County Auditor

(319) 892-5333 (319) 356-6004

joel.miller tweipert

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 5, 2017

Linn & Johnson County Auditors Request SoS Rescind Request on Felon Database

LINN COUNTY AND JOHNSON COUNTY, IA – April 5, 2017 – County Auditors Joel Miller and Travis Weipert announced today their opposition to a request by the Iowa Secretary of State (SoS) to verify the status of felons in the I-Voters Voter Registration database. To date, the SoS has been responsible for the maintenance of the statewide felon database. At times the felon database has been inaccurate, which resulted in eligible voters being on the felon list who should not have been on the list – see

Non-felons wrongly put on felon list not allowed to vote (12 non-felons voters disenfranchised in 2012) http://www.kwwl.com//story/25226515/2014/04/11/non-felons-wrongly-put-on-felon-list-not-allowed-to-vote#.WM1bRXqyEpg.twitter

Weipert and Miller indicate this is another unfunded mandate with legal liability being shifted to Iowa’s 99 county auditors. Miller stated, "So instead of a single office in the State, i.e., the SoS being responsible for working with Iowa’s court system, the SoS is pushing the work and the liability for errors onto me and Iowa’s other county auditors."

If the Linn County Auditor honors the SoS’s request, his office will have to contact 14 county clerks of court to confirm information in the felon database. If the Johnson County Auditor honors the SoS’s request, his office will have to contact nine county clerks of court to confirm information in the felon database. Weipert indicated, "The SoS’s request is not authorized in the Iowa Administrative Code and is non-enforceable."

Miller and Weipert agree, "Based upon the pending legislation proposed by the Secretary of State’s Office, it appears the SoS wants to micromanage the elections processes occurring at the county level while at the same time pushing more work onto the counties with this, its most recent request to manage the felon database. We respectfully request that the SoS rescind its recent request to counties to administer the felon database."

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