Help wanted: Deputy commissioner of elections

November 29, 2016

A not so funny thing happened yesterday (11/28).  Tim Box, Deputy Commissioner of Elections for the last eight years, tendered his resignation and his last day of work will be 1/20/2017.

Elections are stressful and administering this year’s election was about as stressful as it gets.  Tim is leaving on-top because he assembled the greatest team ever to administer one of the most stressful, scrutinized, and important elections ever.

Cheers to Tim!  Cheers to the Team!

So I’m looking for someone to become Linn County’s Deputy Commissioner of Elections.  Give Tim a call at 319-892-5300 option 1 and see what the job entails.  And if you’re still interested, contact me at mailto:joel.miller@linncounty.org

Eventually, the job will be posted on Job Opportunities, but don’t waste time waiting for the posting.  Start your due diligence now because I plan to fill the job around 1/15/2017.  – Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

Auditor’s report 10/6 – 11/23/2016

November 23, 2016

Time flies when an election is underway especially when you and your team are administering the election.

Today, I finished reviewing what occurred between October 6th and November 23rd, and captured some anecdotes in my Auditor’s Report.  If I already posted something via Twitter or via this blog or it appeared in the press, then I may not have referenced in my Report.  Happy Thanksgiving!  – Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

Who voted for you?

November 21, 2016

“I will want to see (the write-in votes) before I officially concede the election to you.”  That was the message I received on Facebook on November 9th, a day after the election.

I initiated the posting of the write-in votes after being elected Auditor.  The law does not require that write-ins be posted; however, in the interest of transparency and accountability, they have been posted for each applicable election from 2010 through 2016.

The write-ins for the 2016 election consume 582 pages.  The absentee precinct votes are searchable so plug in you name to see if you received any votes.  The election day precinct-by-precinct votes were hand written by the precinct election officials and are not searchable.

Who voted for you?  No one knows except for you.  Enjoy!  -Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

Don’t rape REAP (reprinted)

November 5, 2016

Appears the local media has short term memory or selective memory or favorite elected officials when it comes to a certain four letter word, but the internet never forgets anything nor do certain members of this community.

I hope that those who pounced on me for my use of the word “rape” pounce on Linn County Supervisor Brent Oleson with the same wrath they pounced on me.  For example, this morning, I read this email from Mr. Jason Frerichs – Chair of the Iowa Democratic Party’s Progressive Caucus.

He wrote:  Mr. Miller, I’m writing to you in my capacity as the chair of the IDP Progressive Caucus, and a member of the State Central Committee.  I’ve read your comments comparing yourself to a rape victim.  That is beyond the pale and that type of rhetoric is absolutely unacceptable.  I’ve spoken with both male and female rape survivors and they are completed disgusted by your comments.  You owe a lot of people an apology.  A real apology, not some politician’s bullshit “I’m sorry if I offended anyone” apology.  You are embarrassing our party.  Stop it.

According to Gazette opinion columnist Lynda Waddington, I need to “… reach out to the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault so that I (he) can be provided a very clear understanding of what rape actually is”.  After reading Oleson’s rant below, he needs to join me.

I do need to give credit where credit is due, i.e., with Joe Stutler.  Without him, no local politician would be talking about rape or sexual assault.  I know my sensitivity has been renewed.

But all of this does not excuse Stutler’s violation of election law.  He broke the law and as of 11/5, he’s the only one to do what he did in the Auditor’s Office.  BTW, Oleson contributed to Stutler’s campaign and Stutler is Oleson’s campaign Treasurer.  So maybe Stutler needs to join Oleson and me, too?  -Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

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Don’t RAPE REAP

by Linn County Supervisor Brent Oleson

(The author has been a Linn County Supervisor since 2009 and previously worked with the Iowa Senate Minority leader. Bleeding Heartland discussed the bipartisan effort to increase REAP funding to $25 million here. – promoted by desmoinesdem)

I’m gonna go on a rant…about an attempted RAPE.

Yes, I mean every word and hyperbole I’m uttering on this post. REAP (Resource Enhancement & Protection) is being RAPED! For Agriculture…by agri-business…to correct it’s mistakes in a supposedly free and private market of farming. How is this rape of taxpayer funds and DNR license plate fees occurring and for what specifically? Read on My friends.

The Iowa House of Representatives wants to put REAP dollars toward agri-terrace projects, forestry management (subject to logging), and water nutrient pollution clean-up programs because farmland soil is laden with fertilizer chemicals. These are all worthy issues to be addressed on their own I say, and should indeed be addressed and monies put toward mitigation efforts. The Iowa Dept. Of Ag has jurisdiction on all these problems, and they should since their policies and practices created them in the first place.

This isn’t an indictment of farmers, because most are great conservationists of their own free will as it’s good business and good citizenship. I commend those Iowa farmers, especially my Linn County ones, who work hard to be responsible neighbors, citizens and conservationists…voluntarily I might add! But I don’t give a pass to bad apples, policy-makers, or special interest Ag industry lobbyists.

Continue Reading…

– See more at: http://www.bleedingheartland.com/tag/Iowa-Department-of-Natural-Resources/#sthash.4kF13Vl2.dpuf

Expect long lines on Election Day

November 4, 2016

Vote early in the Auditor’s Office on Saturday (11/5) 8am-5pm and on Monday 8am-5pm.

We have 154,358 registered voters in Linn County.  I’m predicting about 40,000 of them will have voted before Election Day.  We have 86 precincts.  I’m predicting a record breaking 78% turnout for this election.

Do the math:

78% (turnout) of 154,358 (registered voters) = 120,400 voters voting

120,400 – 40,000 (early voters) = 80,400 (voters voting on Election Day)

80,400 / 86 (precincts) = 935 voters per precinct on Election Day

935 / 14 (hours polls open; 7am-9pm) – 67 voters per hour per polling place

Unfortunately, not all precincts have the same population.  Iowa law states that no precinct can contain more than 3500 residents after being reapportioned after the census; however, some of the township precincts and rural cities have less than 3500 residents.

Prediction:  The Cedar Rapids metro precincts will have up to 100 voters per hour showing up to vote; and if those voters arrive in waves, there will be lines in the polling places.

Request #1:  If you’ve made up your mind on how to vote, I encourage you to vote tomorrow (Saturday) from 8am-5pm in the Auditor’s Office.

Request #2:  If you have to wait in line on Election Day, please be patient.

Request #3:  If you voted early, stay away from the polls on Election Day.

Request #4:  If you have an absentee ballot in-hand, fill it out, and mail it back (confirm it’s postmarked on or before 11/7) or drop it off at our office BEFORE 9pm on Election Day.  -Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

 

Vote shaming – complaint #2

November 2, 2016

In yet another case of vote shaming gone wrong, a new resident of Linn County is being chastised for not voting in the 2008, 2010, 2012, and 2014 general elections in Linn County.  That’s because she voted in those general elections while residing in Minnesota.

At what point does “vote shaming” turn into “voter suppression”?  -Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

 

Flawed logic and free passes

November 2, 2016

Using columnist Todd Dorman’s and County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden’s logic, all of my former opponents are hereby enabled to break election law because they ran against me in an election.

So that means Dan Abolins, Dennis A. Hill, Patricia L. Ehler, Sally L. Schaab, Ronald J. Maxa, Jr., Lyle K. Hanson, anyone who received one or more of the 1071 votes cast in the Auditor’s race in the 2008 general election, Garth W. Fagerbakke, Brian Lee Gradoville, James M. Houser, and Joe Stutler are hereby enabled to break election law because they ran against me in an election.

Further, Supervisors Brent Oleson and Ben Rogers are enabled to break election law because they are my political rivals.

One of the foundations of our State is contained in Article One Section Six of the Iowa Constitution: All laws of a general nature shall have a uniform operation; the general assembly shall not grant to any citizen, or class of citizens, privileges or immunities, which, upon the same terms shall not equally belong to all citizens. This section of the Constitution is the underlying reason we allow same sex marriage in Iowa.

I do not see anywhere in the Iowa Constitution that former or present political opponents and rivals get a free pass on breaking election law. And that’s what Dorman and Vander Sanden are doing for Stutler, giving him and the other Stutlers of Linn County a free pass.

As of 11/1/2016, over 8,000 residents had voted in-person in the Auditor’s Office or at one of our satellite voting places. Only one left the voting place to vote his ballot outside the voting booth, i.e., Stutler.  And he’s getting away with it because of the flawed logic of the County Attorney and the affirmation of a columnist.

Thanks for treating me like a crime victim fellas! I guess I must have invited Stutler’s behavior. – Joel D. Miller –Linn County Auditor

P.S.  Today (11/3), a caller challenged me on a word I used in my closing paragraph.  I agreed with her and changed the wording.  My apologies to anyone I offended.  – Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

The Gazette published a story on this post at 5pm on 11/3/2016; KCRG broadcast a story on this post at 11:30pm on 11/3/2016; and The Gazette published an opinion on this post at 10am on 11/4/2016.

Vote shaming

November 1, 2016

As if the constant barrage of phone calls, mailers, advertising, and 24 hour news wasn’t enough, some Linn County residents are being questioned about fulfilling their civic duty to vote.  It’s called “vote shaming” and this isn’t the first election it’s been used in Linn County.

Unfortunately, vote shaming is believed to be effective in increasing voter turnout.  But as usual, it’s a one-size-fits-all approach and it does not care if someone had a reason for not voting, e.g., an auto accident, a relative died, or a house fire.

And what if the organization doing the shaming was using outdated voter records and sent the shaming letter to a deceased voter who has a surviving spouse?

The Dillons who live in Hiawatha were not pleased to receive their shaming letters and complained to me – see http://wp.me/aeAZL-Vf

Sorry, but I cannot do anything stop or regulate shaming letters; however, maybe your local legislator can do something?  Don’t know who to contact?  Find your legislator and how to contact them by using our lookup tool.  -Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

 

Lying will always be a big deal to me

October 29, 2016

No evidence of bathroom break on video

On 27 October 2016, the Gazette published Miller wants former rival arrested over voting misconduct – in which Joe Stutler said, “I had to go to the bathroom, so I walked down the hall, filled out my ballot and brought it back….”

On October 28th, the Gazette published another story – Ballot charges sought by Auditor Miller not likely – which reads:  … Stutler, who said he left the polling place to use the restroom ….

On or about 11:05am on 27 October 2016, Stutler was issued his ballot.

I recently obtained video of Stutler on the morning of October 27th:

At about 11:06am, you can see Stutler in red shirt and shorts leaving the voting room area and heading towards the stairs – https://youtu.be/H5wg9JLskMc

At about 11:07am, you can see Stutler turning left before the stairs, going down the hallway and eventually sitting in the one of the chairs by the men’s restroom across from the County Recorder’s counter. He veered over by the Recorder’s counter, which makes me wonder if he did not ask for permission to sit in the chair? Stutler fills out the ballot, stands under the light by the elevator, and appears to be taking photos of his ballot.  He sits down again, then stands, and is eventually confronted by a precinct election official – see https://youtu.be/9GK2a3ez0QU

I am disputing what Stutler told the Gazette’s reporters and may have told County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden. Stutler said, “I had to go to the bathroom….”

The men’s restroom is located on the right side of the hallway next to where Stutler sat and he never goes out of sight to go to the bathroom. So unless Stutler went to the bathroom sitting in the chair or he was wearing a diaper, he made misleading statements to the reporter who reported the news to the public.

I think Stutler read James Lynch’s story IOWA FORBIDS “BALLOT SELFIES” IN VOTING BOOTHS  and decided to go to your Auditor’s Office and ‘act out’.

I have known Joe Stutler for many years. He has worked for me in the Auditor’s Office as an election official on numerous occasions.  He knows the law and he knew he was violating it when he removed his ballot from the voting room.

The Linn County Attorney needs to charge Joe Stutler with a crime and apologize to the person who did his duty and reported the crime.  –Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

Vander Sanden more interested in protecting crony than in maintaining order in polling places

October 28, 2016

From: Miller, Joel
Sent: Friday, October 28, 2016 4:43 PM
To: Vander Sanden, Jerry
Cc: Mitchell.Schmidt@thegazette.com
Subject: RE: Re: Order to Arrest Joseph Stutler

Dear Mr. Vander Sanden:

In my 9+ years as County Auditor, your office has rarely sided with me on anything and I cannot recall that you have ever sided with me. I am not surprised that you have weaseled your way out of upholding my order to arrest a person you supported in the June 2016 primary election. Per https://webapp.iecdb.iowa.gov/publicview/NewContributionSearch.aspx#ctl00_cph1_gvList , you gave $110 to the Committee to Elect Joe Stutler, which is more than you have given to any other candidate running in Linn County. You should have referred this case to the Iowa Attorney General’s Office due to your conflict of interest.

Just as you should have asked the Iowa Attorney General’s Office for an opinion on whether the hiring of your sister-in-law in your office constituted nepotism. I accused you of wrong doing and you rendered an opinion on yourself and your office, denying nepotism. Your opinion, which the Board relied upon, should have never been given when you are the accused.

I am trying to maintain the peace in my office, which is a polling place for early voters – almost 500 today – and your message to the public is do whatever you want at the 86 polling places in Linn County on Election Day because the Linn County Attorney will not prosecute you. Maybe you should sign-up to be a precinct election official for this election so you can reap the fruits of your words below?

Code of Iowa Section 49.105 states, “Any precinct election official shall order the arrest of any person….” It says “shall”, which is a duty. I did my duty. If you cannot do your duty because you despise me so much that you overlook your conflicts of interest with me, then refer these cases to an attorney who does not have a conflict of interest with me and my office. That is your duty and your professional responsibility!

Regards,

Joel D Miller, Auditor, CERA, CGAP®(candidate)

Office of Linn County Auditor

935 2nd ST SW

Cedar Rapids, IA 52404

319-892-5333

LinkedIn

Vision: Every person engaged in local government.

WARNING: Your initial email to me (if any), this email, and your reply, may be viewed by other Linn County elected officials and/or County personnel without my knowledge or consent. Confidential emails should be addressed to mailto:auditor

From: Vander Sanden, Jerry
Sent: Friday, October 28, 2016 4:06 PM
To: Miller, Joel
Cc: Mitchell.Schmidt
Subject: RE: Re: Order to Arrest Joseph Stutler

Mr. Miller:

Thank you for your prompt reply. However, I believe you have erred in your legal analysis. The provisions of Chapter 49 in general and specifically section 49.105 apply to the conduct of elections on election day. It is this section that gives precinct election officials the authority to maintain order and restore the peace if someone becomes disruptive in the polling place on election day. Clearly this is an extreme measure meant to be used only under exception circumstances.

Chapter 53 and specifically 53.10 apply to those who case absentee votes which is what Joseph Stutler was doing. The rules are different for those casting absentee votes. Absentee ballots don’t have to be filled out in a voting booth and there is no prohibition against taking a photo of an absentee ballot. I don’t see that Joe Stutler committed even a technical violation of the election laws.

In my 33 years with the Linn County Attorney’s Office, I have never seen an auditor try to invoke this code section to have a voter arrested. That you tried to apply it to have your primary opponent arrested under these circumstances is a deplorable abuse of the legal and political process.

Jerry A. Vander Sanden

Linn County Attorney

Linn County Courthouse

Cedar Rapids, IA 52401

Office: (319) 892-6350

Email: jerry.vandersanden

From: Miller, Joel
Sent: Friday, October 28, 2016 3:21 PM
To: Vander Sanden, Jerry
Subject: RE: Re: Order to Arrest Joseph Stutler

Mr. Vander Sanden:

See my responses in UPPER CASE RED FONT,

Joel D Miller, Auditor, CERA, CGAP®(candidate)

Office of Linn County Auditor

935 2nd ST SW

Cedar Rapids, IA 52404

319-892-5333

LinkedIn

Vision: Every person engaged in local government.

WARNING: Your initial email to me (if any), this email, and your reply, may be viewed by other Linn County elected officials and/or County personnel without my knowledge or consent. Confidential emails should be addressed to mailto:auditor

From: Vander Sanden, Jerry
Sent: Friday, October 28, 2016 2:16 PM
To: Miller, Joel
Subject: Re: Order to Arrest Joseph Stutler

Mr. Miller:

The Cedar Rapids Police Department requested my legal opinion regarding your purported order directing them to arrest Joseph Stutler. Before I respond to them, I hope you can clarify a few matters for me so I can give them proper legal advice.

· Were you personally present at the polling place in the Elections Office when any of the alleged actions of Mr. Stutler took place? NO

· Were you a witness to any of the his actions at or outside the Elections Office? NO

· Was any precinct election official a witness to any of the alleged actions of Mr. Stutler? YES. CRPD HAS SWORN STATEMENT FROM PEO.

· Are you claiming the provisions of Chapter 49 apply to a voter who casts an absentee ballot pursuant to section 53.10(3) of the Iowa Code? YES

· That is, since Mr. Stutler was casting an absentee ballot pursuant to section 53.10(3), is there any provision which mandates where the ballot must be completed?

SEE PAGE 3-17 OF IOWA SECRETARY OF STATE’S GUIDE FOR AUDITOR’S https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/pdf/auditors/eah/absentee.pdf

6. Initial and issue the appropriate ballot to the voter. Ballots must be voted at the office; they may not be taken from the office.

7. Send the voter to a booth. Each voter must use a voting booth. Voting instructions must be posted in each voting booth. [IAC 721—22.250]

8. Ask the voter to wait while you review the affidavit envelope when the voter returns the ballot.

Check to be sure the voter:

§ Sealed the affidavit envelope, apparently with the ballot inside

§ Did not open and reseal the affidavit envelope

[§53.18, IAC 721—21.352(2), 21.354(2)]

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

CODE OF IOWA SECTION 49.84 Marking and return of ballot.

1. a. After receiving the ballot, the voter shall immediately go to the next available voting booth and without delay mark the ballot. All voters shall vote in booths.

39A.3Election misconduct in the second degree.1. A person commits the crime of election misconduct in the second degree if the person willfully commits any of the following acts:

a.Interference with validity of election.

(1) Possesses an official ballot outside of the voting room unless the person is an election official or other person authorized by law to possess such a ballot.

2. Election misconduct in the second degree is an aggravated misdemeanor.

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

· Do you know of any law prohibiting a person from taking a photo of an absentee ballot? YES. IF YOU ARE REQUIRED TO VOTE YOUR BALLOT IN A VOTING BOOTH [IAC 721—22.250] AND CODE 49.84, AND YOU PROHIBITED FROM USING DEVICES IN THE VOTING BOOTH (CODE 49.88), THEN IT STANDS TO REASON THAT YOU CANNOT VIOLATE THE LAW BY LEAVING THE BOOTH AND THEN THINK YOU HAVE NOT VIOLATED THE LAW BY TAKING A PHOTO OUTSIDE OF THE BOOTH.

· Concerning section 39A.3(1)(a)(1) of the Code, wasn’t Mr. Stutler authorized to possess the absentee ballot since it was issued to him? HE WAS AUTHORIZED TO POSSESS THE BALLOT AND DIRECTED TO PROCEDED TO THE VOTING ROOM CONTAINING THE VOTING BOOTHS PER CODE 49.84.

Thank you in advance for your prompt attention and reply to my inquiry.

Jerry A. Vander Sanden

Linn County Attorney

Linn County Courthouse

Cedar Rapids, IA 52401

Office: (319) 892-6350

Email: jerry.vandersanden


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