Archive for the ‘Public records requests’ Category

Reply to FOIA: M. Luke Martz – Iowa Field Report – Des Moines, IA

April 16, 2021

Dear Mr. Martz:

The public records meeting the criteria you specified below are available here.  Please download them at your convenience.


County Auditor, BS, CERA

FOIA: M. Luke Martz – Iowa Field Report – Des Moines, IA

April 9, 2021

A while ago, I predicted that election administrators in Iowa and other parts of the USA were going to be inundated with FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests based upon Federal law and/or public records requests based upon Iowa law. Unfortunately, my prediction may be true – see below.

Currently, I am in the process of implementing a software tool to process public records requests more efficiently. One of the features supposedly includes a log of who is requesting what records, similar to the U of I’s.  Until then, I’ll post the requests on this blog. | Posted by Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor


From: Field Report Media <>
Sent: Thursday, April 08, 2021 8:16 PM
To: Miller, Joel <>
Subject: Open Records Request

To whom it may concern:

I am submitting this request under the provisions of Iowa Code Chapter 22.

Please provide all messages posted on the service known as “Basecamp” hosted by the Iowa State Association of Counties or Iowa State Association of County Auditors by Linn County Auditor Joel Miller for the previous five years. The request includes all messages from other individuals that Miller replied to and that replied to Miller during this time period.

If there is a fee for fulfilling this request, please inform me in advance of the amount. Section 22.3 says that the fee shall not exceed the actual cost of providing the service. However, I request a waiver of all fees in that the disclosure of the requested information is in the public interest and will contribute to the public’s understanding of election management. As a member of the media, any relevant information gleaned from this request will be disseminated for public consumption.

The Iowa Open Records Law requires a timely response. If access to the records I am requesting will take longer than 10 days, please contact me with information about when I might expect copies or the ability to inspect the requested records.

If you deny any or all of this request, please cite each specific exemption you feel justifies the refusal to release the information and notify me of the appeal procedures available to me under the law.

Thank you for considering my request.


M. Luke Martz
P.O. Box 93712
Des Moines, Iowa 50393

FOIA: Colin C. Smith – Smith Law Office LLC – West Des Moines, IA

October 30, 2020

After I received a FOIA from The Patriots Foundation AND a demand letter from the SoS legal counsel yesterday, I started wondering if they were related to a earlier FOIA from Colin Smith. What do you think?

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

Open Records Request to Linn County Auditor – 9.17.20 – FINAL.pdf

Demand Letter: Iowa Secretary of State

October 29, 2020

The last time I complied with a demand letter from the Iowa Secretary of State, the information I provided appeared in subsequent legal briefs filed in the Trump Campaign versus Joel Miller hearing (Case #06571EQCV095986). I’m guessing someone is getting ready to file another lawsuit. Why? Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor & Commissioner of Elections

From: Widen, Molly [SOS] <>
Sent: Thursday, October 29, 2020 2:05 PM
To: Miller, Joel <>
Cc: Ston…
Subject: Iowa Code §47.1(6) Demand for Documents

Good Afternoon Auditor Miller,

You are receiving this email because there was litigation in your county regarding the sending of absentee ballot requests pre-filled with voters’ information by your office. Pursuant to Iowa Code §47.1(6), please provide the following records:

  1. The voter ID, name and address of every voter that was sent a notice by your office as required by the Temporary Restraining Order in place in your county
  2. The voter ID, name and address of every voter who returned an absentee ballot request form pre-filled with their information by your office

We ask that you provide these records in an expeditious manner, but no later than November 6, 2020. It is our office’s understanding that you have created and are maintaining an Excel spreadsheet with the requested information. Providing a copy of the spreadsheet would fulfill the requirement.

Once you have compiled the requested records, please email be so I can provide you with details on how to upload the records to an sFTP.


Molly M. Widen
Legal Counsel
Office of Iowa Secretary of State Paul D. Pate
Office: (515) 281-5864

Mobile: (515) 210-4634

Email: molly.widen

FOIA: Craig Robinson – The Patriots Foundation – Urbandale, IA

October 29, 2020

The last time I received a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request (also known as an open records request in Iowa) or a demand letter from the Iowa Secretary of State, I was sued by the Trump Campaign and others. Today, I received a FOIA from The Patriots Foundation AND a demand letter from the SoS legal counsel.

The general election is less than five days away. What’s this all about? Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor & Commissioner of Elections

From: Craig Robinson <>
Sent: Thursday, October 29, 2020 12:05 PM
To: Miller, Joel <>
Subject: FOIA Request

Auditor Miller,

Please see the attached FOIA request.


Craig Robinson

Linn County FOIA Request.pdf

HAVA complaint filed on Iowa Secretary of State

July 20, 2019

When have you ever paid over $200,000 for something and did not know what you were receiving in return? That is the amount Linn County taxpayers have paid to the Iowa Secretary of State for I-Voters Maintenance Fees since 2010. And my office just received a bill for another $29,000 for the current fiscal year.

The reason for this complaint is simple. I and my fellow Iowa county auditors have been told for years that Iowa’s voter registration system, i.e., I-Voters, is secure. Yet, over the years we have received little factual information that allows us to draw the conclusion that I-Voters is secure.

On February 11, 2015, Secretary of State Paul Pate named me to his Auditors’ Advisory Group, a bi-partisan group of county auditors. I said then, “I appreciate Secretary Pate reaching out to me to gather input regarding elections, I look forward to working with him over the next few years to come up with solutions that make sense for Iowa.” The Advisory Group has not been convened by the Secretary in over two years.

Some of my peers have advised me to not talk about our voter registration system, fearing the public will misinterpret the talk. How can I assure the voters of Linn County that I-Voters and their voter registration records are secure when I do not know what is going on with it?

For example, has I-Voters been subjected to a cyber security vulnerability assessment? Or a penetration test? And were the tests performed by third party, ethical hackers who are committed to ensuring the system is secure for the next election? And why did the Secretary’s staff cutoff Linn County’s access to I-Voters after I announced I was going to conduct a vulnerability assessment on the election systems physically residing in Linn County.

I don’t know what I don’t know. And I am not going to be “high” on something that I have been kept “in the dark on”, i.e., I-Voters.

I am doing everything I can to keep the elections systems that I am responsible for secure from bad actors. I am a former IT director and a technology project manager, and the current commissioner of elections, and I need to hear more from the Secretary than the words “trust me”.

Again, the reason for this complaint is simple. I do not know what is going on with I-Voters and I need to know, and I am entitled to know.

Joel D. Miller
Linn County Auditor & Commissioner of Elections


Pate names Miller to Auditors’ Advisory Group

Iowa will keep voter registration system for 2020 elections

HAVA Complaint Letter 7.16.19.pdf
HAVA complaint 7.17.19.pdf
Public Information Request 7.1.19.pdf

Center for Voter Information mailers: Intimidating or helpful?

November 1, 2018

Four Linn County voters have called Elections Services to complain about mail from the Center for Voter Information. They felt intimidated by the mailing. Another voter complained and brought us two mailings she had received from the Center.

We have received complaints on these types of mailers in past elections and the Iowa Attorney General and the US District Attorney reviewed those past mailers. Although neither attorney appreciated the mailers, they determined they were not illegal in that election cycle, i.e., in 2016

The purpose of this post is to inform you that we are aware of the mailers. If you feel intimidated by the mailers, then I suggest you contact the Center for Voter Information and let them know how you feel.

Unfortunately, there is nothing my office can do to stop these mailers from being delivered to your mailbox. –Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

Fake news and a kangaroo court

October 24, 2018

You may wonder why I did not attend today’s Linn County Board of Supervisors meeting.  Here are some of my reasons:

  • I anticipated it was going to be kangaroo court.  And after viewing the video recording of the meeting, there is no doubt it was indeed a kangaroo court. I am thankful I did not attend.  I have no doubt Supervisors Rogers, Walker, and Oleson would have piled on more fake news if I had been present.
  • I provided an update to the Board last week; however, only Supervisors Houser, Harris, and Rogers bothered to show up for that meeting. Then today, they pretend I deprived them of details.  They have the details.  Supervisor Rogers has asked for and received details on an almost daily basis.  The purpose of today’s meeting was to continue his witch-hunt.
  • Electioneering is the act of saying anything negative or positive about a candidate on the ballot in a polling place. I am a candidate on November 6th. For some reason, the Supervisors think their public Board meeting room is immune from the legal requirements of Iowa law Chapters 39A.4 and 53.10.  I cannot control what they do, but I control what I do; hence, I did not attend their meeting today in a building designated as a polling place.

After watching the video, it is clear that Supervisors Rogers, Walker, and Oleson are masters of fake news.  For example,

  • Rogers says, “The Secretary of State said in an email to Auditor Miller that he has not done enough to address this issue”.  Fake news:  I have not received any emails from Secretary of State Paul Pate. 
  • Walker said, “It’s almost criminal” what Miller has done.  Fake news:  There is nothing criminal about the sample ballot mailer.  Its purpose was to increase voter turnout, and inform and educate voters on election law changes, and allow them time to be informed about candidates on the ballot prior to Election Day.
  • Oleson said, “Some people have been disenfranchised from the vote”.  Fake news:  No proof exists that anyone has been disenfranchised. 
  • Oleson said, “Auditor Miller is personally, I mean he has never before personally collected the mail, and he’s going in and then personally collecting the mail, and then reviewing the allocation of votes on the sample ballots form, and then shredding them”.  Fake news and AN OUTRIGHT LIE:  I don’t touch the mail nor have I viewed any voted sample ballots or official ballots.  A team of Republican and Democrat election officials shred the sample ballots mistakenly returned to our office.
  • Oleson said, I bullied and stopped March for Our Lives students from registering voters. Fake news:  Students had set up a table to register voters within the confines of a polling place, i.e., within 300’ of the NewBo City Market satellite voting on 10/13/2018.  State law prohibits electioneering within 300’ and; unfortunately, someone told the students it was permissible to display photos of the Republican and Democratic candidates on the November 6th ballot along with information on those candidates.  Fortunately, no one who cared about the unfairness of this situation contacted my office to complain about the lack of Libertarian and other third-party candidates missing from the display photos and information.  I advised the students that they needed to display all of the candidates on the ballot or none of the candidates on the ballot.  The students rolled up the tablecloth and removed the entire display.  I told them, “I appreciated their efforts, but they needed to be fair to all candidates”; and they were not being fair.  Reminder:  Iowa ballots contain three major parties. 
  • Oleson said, “You are allowed to have forums within voting places”. Fake news from a fake lawyer:  The purpose of candidate forums is for candidates to answer questions and give their positions on issues.  As such, the candidates attending those forums are advocating for themselves or against their opponents – that is electioneering. 
  • Rogers said, no one has seen the letter sent to the voters who mistakenly returned their sample ballots. Fake news:  The letter was provided to Noah Tabor, Esq. – Voter Protection Director, Campaign for Iowa (Democratic Party), and to Deputy Iowa Secretary of State Ken Kline on 10/2/2018.
  • Rogers said, if we directed staff not to answer him, there would be a big stink.  Fake news:  Actually, the Board did direct its staff not to answer my questions regarding the Harris Building.  No stink – no news story. 
  • Walker said, “The Auditor had instructed the staff member to tell me to leave because of electioneering”. Fake news:  I never talked to my staff member about Stacey Walker being in the Library.  My staff member knows the law and the law states:  Loitering by candidates and others is prohibited in a polling place and the Cedar Rapids Public Library was a polling place.  Supervisor Walker appears to believe he is above the law.
  • Walker said, “The Commissioner of Elections is waltzing around this community acting as if he has the right to arrest people” and “telling citizens where they can and cannot be.”  Fake news:  I do not have the right to arrest anyone – that is law enforcement’s job.  I do not tell anyone where they can or cannot be.  I inform people what the law is and they decide what they should do.  The NAACP decided to relocate after being informed of the law.  In fact, Iowa State Senator Rob Hogg called me about the NAACP forum to ask if it complied with the law.  I told him that the NAACP had already decided to move.  

The Board spent about 22 minutes of their 26 minute meeting discussing the sample ballot mailing.  Imagine how long the meeting would have been if I had attended?

If I had attended the meeting, I have no doubt the meeting would have crossed the line from fact-finding to character assassination in seconds.  Even in my absence, my behavior was referred to as being “criminal” (Walker) and I was guilty of “malfeasance” (Oleson).  Those are not kind words to say about someone – that is electioneering.

Today’s meeting was a kangaroo court with Supervisor Rogers presiding, and Supervisors Walker and Oleson taking their turns at me.

The biggest disappointment is the ease with which Rogers, Walker, and Oleson spread fake news or outright lies, and this is but one 26 minute meeting.  Unfortunately, this is not the first time nor the last time they will spread fake news.

Thirteen days and counting.  Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

Response to Iowa Democratic Party and Secretary of State on 10/2/2018 re sample ballot mailer

October 24, 2018

In response to inquiries about the letter we have been sending to those voters who mistakenly returned their sample ballots to our office, I am providing the emails and attachments sent to the Iowa Democratic Party and the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office on 10/2/2018. For your information – Joel D. Miller – Linn County

From: Miller, Joel
Sent: Tuesday, October 02, 2018 6:08 PM
To: Ken Kline, [SOS] <>
Cc: Stonawski, Rebecca <>
Subject: Fwd: Response to Inquiry re: Mailer from Campaign for Iowa


I received your email re our mailer with sample ballot.

This morning, we responded to the Iowa Democratic Party with the email below including the attachments. In addition, we issued a press release last Friday and collaborated on The Gazette news story today.

Please let me know if you think there is something more my office needs to do regarding this matter.



From: Stonawski, Rebecca
Sent: Tuesday, October 02, 2018 12:53 PM
To: ntabor
Cc: Miller, Joel <Joel.Miller>
Subject: Response to Inquiry re: Mailer from Campaign for Iowa

Mr. Tabor,

Thank you for your call this morning. Please find the attached documents as requested.


Deputy Commissioner of Elections

Tabor Letter.docx

Sample Ballot returned voted.docx

Letter Mockup 20180906 EPL.pdf

Top secret: How many of our deceased were cremated?

January 30, 2018

How many cremation permits were signed by the Linn County Medical Examiner (ME) from 1/1/2017 – 12/31/2017? According to not one, but two assistant county attorneys, I have no legal remedy to find out.

Forget about Iowa’s Open Records laws (Code of Iowa Chapter 22) – medical examiner records are confidential public records. And forget about my power to audit – Code of Iowa section 331.502(41) – the fees the medical examiner receives for signing cremation permits have never been deposited into a county fund or account so there is no county fund or account to audit. This reminds of that greasy pig contest my 4-H club held in the 70s.

Earlier this month, I blogged about How much do cremation permits cost taxpayers? I wanted to know how much revenue is generated by the ME for signing cremation permits since the County’s taxpayers are ultimately paying this death tax. It seemed like a simple question. Unfortunately, the Board of Supervisors had little interest in knowing the answer.

I did not let it go.

Last week, I sent an open records request to our medical examiner – see attached. Today, I received a reply from an assistant county attorney – see attached. And now that I have reviewed a cremation permit form, I realize I don’t need and I don’t want all of the data on the form. But the ME could redact everything on the form except for the name of the decedent and a date, and I could count the number of signed permits to determine the fees he earned. Or at the very least, the ME could give me a notarized statement as to the number of cremation permits he signed in 2017.

Or the Board of Supervisors could order the ME to disclose the number of cremation permits he signed … or threaten to cancel his contract if he didn’t disclose the numbers. What are the odds of that happening?

So are the taxpayers of Linn County paying their ME $30K, $70K, or $100K per year for him to sign cremation permits? How many Linn County residents are being cremated per year? The answers to those questions are top secret until someone in a position of power asks them … and discloses the facts. And that’s not me. Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

Response from assistant county attorney on 1-26-2018 re Public records request for copies of signed cremation permits.pdf

Public records request to Dr Linder – ME dated 1-23-2018.pdf

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