Posts Tagged ‘Paul Pate’

Press release: Iowa’s county auditors have 46 hours to count 924,533 absentee ballots

November 2, 2020

This morning, Roxanna Moritz, President of the Iowa State Association of County Auditors, issued a press release reminding county auditors that beginning at 12:01am today, we have 46 hours to count the absentee ballots we had as of this morning, i.e., 924,533 absentee ballots

Translation: Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate is going to suspend the counting of absentee ballots at 10pm on Election Night. This means that any of those 924,533 absentee ballots NOT counted by 10pm will NOT be counted.

In Linn County, we started the process of counting the absentee ballots included in the 924,533 total at 7am. We will not stop until 100% are counted. Posted by Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor & Commissioner of Elections

PR Release.docx

Does Iowa SoS plan to suspend counting of absentee ballots at 10pm on Election Night?

October 30, 2020

At 7am on Monday, November 2nd, Linn County’s Absentee Ballot and Special Voters Precinct Board (ASVP) will start counting an estimated 80,000 absentee ballots received by the Linn County Auditor’s Office prior to election day.

In the June 2020 primary election, the ASVP counted 33,892 absentee ballots and finished the counting about 4pm on election day.

Earlier this year, I submitted a request to change the Iowa Secretary of State’s (SoS) administrative rules to allow county auditors more time to begin counting absentee ballots. A hearing was conducted by the SoS’s legal counsel, but no further action was taken on my requested rule change. Instead, the SoS asked the Legislative Council to approve a one-time directive to allow the ASVP to open absentee ballots on Saturday.

With the election day less than four days away, I thought it prudent to ask the question: What happens if my office does not complete the counting of absentee ballots by 10pm on election night? I emailed my question to the SoS – see below. The SoS’s deflection to my question is further below.

Asked if he has any concerns about absentee results not being reported on election night, Pate said, “No, I really don’t.” Why is Secretary Pate so confident? One answer might be: He’s going to suspend the counting of absentee ballots at 10:01pm.

Hopefully, all of Iowa’s 99 counties will be finished counting their absentee ballots by 10:01pm.  But what if one or more are not? What will happen? I’m not going to take that chance with my voters’ absentee ballots, and I think any auditor who ignores the “writing on the wall” below is putting their voters’ absentee ballots in jeopardy.

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

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From: Miller, Joel <joel.miller@linncounty-ia.gov>
Sent: Friday, October 30, 2020 2:34 PM
To: Burhans, Heidi [SOS] <Heidi.Burhans@sos.iowa.gov>
Subject: Request for confirmation on counting absentee ballots after 10pm on election day and beyond?

Director Burhans:

Code of Iowa 53.23 makes references to 10pm on election day and references to counting absentee ballots on election day – see https://www.legis.iowa.gov/docs/code/53.23.pdf

As of today, we have more than 70,000 absentee ballots to count and report on by 10pm on election day. Over six months ago, I tried to buy or rent an additional DS850; and I partnered with Johnson County in an attempt to buy/rent an additional DS450/650/850 that we could share between us.

Linn County only possesses two DS850s to count the 70K+ absentee ballots. If a DS850 breakdowns and it cannot be returned to service in a timely manner, we will use our DS200s to continue processing ballots. However, any breakdown in the process of counting absentee ballots could result in Linn County missing the 10pm times mentioned in paragraphs 1, 3a, and 3c and/or not completing the counting of absentee ballots on election day mentioned in paragraphs 1, 3a, 3c, and 6.

I presume each and every county auditor in the State shall continue counting the absentee ballots they started to count on November 2nd and/or November 3rd through 10pm and beyond, if that is what is necessary to complete the counting of the absentee ballots?

Unfortunately, it is unwise to presume anything in this election and I am now requesting confirmation from you, as the Director of Elections for the Office of the Iowa Secretary of State, that county auditors shall continue to count the absentee ballots that we started to count, until all absentee ballots to be counted on election day are counted, even if we do not complete the counting until November 4th or beyond.

Please provide your confirmation of my presumption in writing.

Regards,

Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

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From: Burhans, Heidi [SOS] [Heidi.Burhans@sos.iowa.gov]
Sent: Friday, October 30, 2020 5:30 PM
To: Miller, Joel
Subject: RE: Request for confirmation on counting absentee ballots after 10pm on election day and beyond?

Auditor Miller:

It is important to note that, according to ES&S product specifications, you have the capacity to process 600 ballots per minute utilizing both of your DS850s. Based on the number of absentee ballots returned in your county, it appears tabulation will take a little over two hours. You can begin counting absentee ballots at 12:00 AM on Monday, November 2, 2020, which means there are 46 hours available for counting prior to 10:00 PM on Election Day. Opening and separating the affidavit envelopes from the secrecy sleeves tomorrow allows Monday and Tuesday to be devoted to counting ballots.

In the event that one or both of your DS850s were to experience a breakdown, you should follow the process you have developed in your Incident Response Plan.

If you need suggestions regarding how to manage the processing of your absentee ballots, we suggest reaching out to Jamie Fitzgerald or Dennis Parrott. They both are confident in their ability to process a high number of absentee ballots prior to 10:00 PM on Election Day and may have some suggestions on how to improve your ASVP Board’s internal processes. 

Additionally, you may seek counsel from your County Attorney. If they have any questions, they can consult with the Attorney General’s Office through the Prosecuting Attorney Training Council (PATC).

Regards,

Heidi L. Burhans – Director of Elections

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] <Molly.Hammer@sos.iowa.gov>
Sent: Thursday, October 29, 2020 2:05 PM
To: Miller, Joel <joel.miller@linncounty-ia.gov>
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.

Sincerely,

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
SERVICE · PARTICIPATION · INTEGRITY
sos.iowa.gov

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

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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

Answer to motion to dismiss HAVA complaint

November 27, 2019

Today (11/27/2019), I filed my answers to the arguments made by the Iowa Secretary of State (SoS) in his motion to dismiss my HAVA complaint.  As the banner on my home page indicates, I wear many hats.  I am the author of the answers, but I am not a lawyer.  My brief is functional, but it is not lawyerly.  It is 128 pages long and includes 18 exhibits.

To save you from having to scroll through 128 pages, I embedded the links to my online sources into the exhibit numbers.  If you want to see an exhibit that does not have a link, please reach out to me via the contact form.

Next steps.  The SoS has until 12/5/2019 to respond to these answers and the resistance I filed on 11/26/2019.  Unless the SoS and I decide to settle before 12/9/2019, the Voter Registration Commission, in its role as the Presiding Officer, will hold a hearing at 10am on 12/9/2019 in the SoS conference room on the 1st Floor of the Lucas State Office Building on the Capitol Complex.  The hearing will be open to the public.

In the meantime, feel free to use the contact form to reach me.  Happy Thanksgiving!  Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

 

Resistance to motion to dismiss HAVA complaint

November 26, 2019

On 8/12/2019, I filed a HAVA complaint on the Iowa Secretary of State.

Today, 11/26/2019, I filed part one of my Resistance to the Secretary of State’s Motion to Dismiss my HAVA complaint.

Tomorrow, 11/27/2019, I will file part two of my resistance, i.e., an additional complementary, stand-alone document containing detailed answers to the Arguments in the Motion to Dismiss.

If you are a legal geek, you may find today’s filing interesting.  If you are an elections or cybersecurity geek, then save your reading for tomorrow.  Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

Secretary Pate files motion to dismiss HAVA complaint

November 13, 2019

As expected, the assistant attorney general representing the Office of Iowa Secretary of State Paul D. Pate filed a motion to dismiss my HAVA complaint. Assuming my complaint is not resolved in the next few days, I will be filing a response to the motion to dismiss, which I will post on this blog. Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor & Commissioner of Elections

 

IVoters felon list still disenfranchising citizens

October 28, 2019

Recently, Linn County Election Services (LCES) had a phone call from a citizen who received a “Canceled – Convicted Felon Letter” after registering to vote at an Iowa DOT drivers’ license station. Here is a summary of the events that occurred to get her records corrected:

The citizen said she had never been convicted of a felony, although she had been charged.

LCES searched the Felon List within I-Voters and it showed an “N” for “No” in the “Restored/Corrected” field, which meant she was a felon.

LCES gave the citizen the case number and conviction date listed in her I-Voters record.

The citizen said she would contact the clerk of court.

A few hours later, LCES got a call from the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office indicating the citizen’s record had been corrected and LCES should make her an Active voter.

LCES double-checked IVoters and it did indeed show a “C” for “Corrected” in the “Restored/Corrected” column.

LCES made the citizen/voter Active and initiated the process to issue her a Voter Acknowledgement Card.

According to a 9/24/2019 story in the Des Moines Register, “More than 2600 people have been found to have been erroneously listed on the state’s felon list since 2016”.

Chapter 721 of the Code of Iowa states: Any public officer/employee who “… knowingly delivers a falsified writing, with the knowledge that the writing is falsified and that the writing will become a public record of a government body” commits a crime.

Regarding the Felon List, as long ago as 4/15/2015, the Director of Elections for the Iowa Secretary of State, “…noted that the quality of information that has been received from the local clerk’s offices in the past is not reliable ….”

One of the arguments for Iowa passing Voter ID was: If the new Voter ID law keeps even one ineligible voter from voting, then we should pass it. Using that logic, if the current Felon List disenfranchises even one eligible voter, then the Felon List should be abandoned and NOT used by the State’s election officials. Maybe someone should file an injunction prohibiting the use of the Felon List within IVoters? Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

VRC to discuss how-to-proceed on HAVA complaint

October 25, 2019

The Iowa Voter Registration Commission (VRC) will take up my HAVA complaint at its 10am meeting next Wednesday. Details of the meeting are at VR Agenda 10-30-2019.pdf

Here are some events that have occurred since I filed the HAVA complaint on 7/17/2019:

7/19/2019 – Iowa Secretary of State’s Office (SoS) confirms to Associated Press that Iowa’s 14-year-old voter registration system (IVoters) will not be upgraded prior to the 2020 Presidential Election.

7/20/2019 – Published “HAVA complaint filed on Iowa Secretary of State” on this blog.

7/22/2019 – SoS responds to Linn County Auditor’s (LCA) public records request (PRR) seeking correspondence on IVoters development from 1/1/2018 to the present by providing one email from 12/26/2017, and nothing for all of 2018 or 2019. SoS indicates all other records are considered confidential (secret) under Iowa law.

7/22/2019 – Published “Feds trust Pate. Why doesn’t he trust us?” on this blog.

7/26/2019 – LCA requests Auditor of State (AoS) investigate SoS’s usage of $1.05M in FY2019 State funds and $4.8M in Federal funds to determine if the funds have been spent on IVoters upgrades, enhancements, replacement, or security; and to determine how those expenditures benefitted taxpayers.

7/31/2019 – Published “I-Voters: Anyone looking for APTs?” on this blog.

8/1/2019 – Emailed SoS asking for the names of the county auditors assigned to the Cybersecurity Working Group touted by Secretary Pate in a 5/4/2018 press release. To date, no response from the SoS.

8/5/2019 – Published “Saying I-Voters is secure isn’t enough” on this blog.

8/9-11/2019 – LCA and Johnson County Auditor attend DEFCON Hacking Conference in Las Vegas. While there, both host a discussion group on Iowa’s voting system with ethical hackers.

8/12/2019 – Des Moines Register publishes story on my HAVA complaint and my concern that IVoters is vulnerable to hackers. SoS calls me “willfully ignorant”.

8/19/2019 – Director of Elections for SoS “accepts” HAVA complaint and notifies VRC (the presiding officer) of the Administrative Rules requirement that a schedule be established to resolve the complaint.

8/23/2019 – Secretary Pate and others attend a statewide county auditors conference in Des Moines. Pate says he came up with the $7M proposal to replace IVoters by “calling around to other states” to see what they spent to replace their voter registration systems. SoS confirms IVoters will not be upgraded prior to 2020 Presidential Election, and further indicates that no RFI (requests for information) or RFP (requests for proposals) have been issued to replace IVoters.

10/3/2019 – LCA sends PRR to SoS requesting a copy of all contracts related to IVoters since its inception through 12/31/2020.

10/18/2019 – Published “Where are your voter records stored?” on this blog.

10/22/2019 – Assistant Attorney General representing SoS indicates SoS is working on my 10/3 PRR, and they may require longer than 20 days to complete it.

10/22/2019 – Published “Iowa’s voter registration system not designed for today’s technological challenges” on this blog.

10/23/2019 – LCA sends PRR to VRC requesting documents related to IVoters status, updates, and revamp; and provides samples of VRC records containing those items.

10/24/2019 – LCA sends request for information to AoS to answer the question: How can a vendor perform work for the SoS and store voter registration records without being paid by the State?

10/30/2019 – VRC holds meeting on HAVA complaint and other topics.

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

 

Iowa’s voter registration system not designed for today’s technological challenges

October 22, 2019

“The system was built in 2005 and was not designed for today’s technological challenges, including cybersecurity.” 

“… technological advancements are needed to ensure the integrity of our election systems.”

“The system simply was not built for our evolving election methods.”

You write that when you ask for $7,350,000 from legislators.

Source:  An executive summary from the Iowa Secretary of State.

“You might have recently read that I-Voters will not be replaced before the 2020 elections. Replacing the system is a multiyear, multimillion-dollar project and remains on-schedule. It is not something that can or should be rushed into blindly.”

You write that when you did not do your job by replacing I-Voters prior to the 2020 Presidential Election.

Source: Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate in The Gazette on 7/29/2019

Is I-Voters secure?  Maybe we will learn the answer during my upcoming HAVA complaint hearing.  Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor & Commissioner of Elections #trustnverifyivoters


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