Archive for the ‘Elections’ Category

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

Vote by mail ain’t broke – don’t fix it

June 4, 2020

By all accounts, Iowa’s June 4th primary election was a resounding success. More citizens than ever participated, and while we won’t know for maybe two weeks whether anyone who worked at the polls or went to the polls left with Covid19, an overwhelming number of voters voted by mail using Iowa’s absentee ballot process.

So why is someone floating convoluted legislation to ban the Iowa Secretary of State from again mailing out absentee ballot request forms to every active registered voter before the November general election? [See attached HF2486] Evidently, someone in the Iowa Legislature has it out for voters who took advantage of the vote-by-mail process. Or they just want to discriminate against voters like me, who are over the age of 60. The interesting fact about the voters who used the vote-by-mail process is that in 64 of Iowa’s 99 counties, Republican voters were a majority of the voters who took advantage of the absentee ballot process and voted absentee. [See attached AbsenteeCounty2020]

We are all familiar with the saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” I don’t know who the author(s) of the attached version of HF2486 are, but unless this is a late arriving April Fool’s Joke, they need to focus on the original intent of HF2486, which was to fix the problem they created when they required us to put the County Treasurer’s seal on our official ballots – see https://www.legis.iowa.gov/legislation/BillBook?ga=88&ba=hf2486

Vote by mail ain’t broke. Don’t fix it. – Posted by Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

HF2486.pdf

AbsenteeCounty2020 – More Rs voted absentee than Ds in 64 counties.pdf

NEWS RELEASE: Primary Election: Absentee Ballots and Early, In-Person Voting

April 24, 2020

For more information, contact:

Rebecca Stonawski

Deputy Commissioner of Elections

319-892-5300, ext. 1

elections

Primary Election: Absentee Ballots and Early, In-Person Voting

County Offices to Appear on the 2020 Primary Election Ballot

LINN COUNTY, IA – April 23, 2020 – The Linn County Auditor’s Office has received over 10,000 absentee request forms for the June 2 Primary. This far surpasses recent primary elections.

In the 2018 Primary, 1,520 absentee ballots were requested. In the 2016 Primary, 2,075 absentee ballots were requested.

The Auditor’s Office will be mailing the first 5,274 absentee ballots today, Thursday, April 23. Another 5,000 are expected by the end of next week.

Auditor Joel Miller states, “We appreciate the community’s responsible choice to vote from home. We encourage voters to request an absentee ballot, and we appreciate their patience as we process these requests.”

In-person, absentee voting will also be available at a drive-through location near the Linn County Public Service Center at 823 3rd St SW in Cedar Rapids. Voters will be processed curbside. This early voting option will be available May 4-June 1, 2020 from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday, and on Saturday, May 30.

Due to COVID-19, election day polling locations will be reduced to 19 sites. In mid-May, the Linn County Auditor’s Office will send a postcard mailer to all registered households in Linn County indicating their temporary, combined voting locations. Voters may also view their temporary voting location by entering their address at: www.linncountyelections.org/lookup

Additional information may be found at LinnCounty.org/Vote.

For questions regarding this election, call the Linn County Election Services Office at 319-892-5300, ext. 1 or email elections Posted by Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor & Commissioner of Elections

Court scheduled to hear appeal on Voter Registration Commission decision

February 18, 2020

On 7/10/2020, a Polk County (Iowa) district judge is scheduled to hold a hearing on my appeal of the recent decision made by the Iowa Voter Registration Commission (VRC) on my HAVA complaint on the Iowa Secretary of State. I would have preferred that the Court hold the hearing prior to the June 2nd primary election.

The purpose of this appeal is to ask the District Court to order the VRC to fulfill its duty by holding a contested case hearing in which records can be subpoenaed and witnesses can be cross-examined – neither of which occurred in any of the VRC’s proceedings leading up to its decision. Time is of the essence and the security of our election systems in Iowa needs to be thoroughly scrutinized to ensure we have minimized our vulnerabilities. Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor & Commissioner of Elections

1a – Civil Original Notice – 2.13.20.PDF

1b – Petition for Judicial Review.PDF

1c – Exhibit A.PDF

1c – Exhibit B.PDF

1c – Exhibit C.PDF

2a – Order Establishing Schedule – 2.17.20.PDF

2b – Order.PDF

NEWS RELEASE: Absentee Voting Begins Monday, February 10 for Alburnett Community School District and College Community School District Special Elections

February 6, 2020

For more information, contact:

Rebecca Stonawski

Deputy Commissioner of Elections

319-892-5300, ext. 1

elections

For Immediate Release

February 5, 2020

Special Election:

Absentee Voting Begins Monday, February 10 for Alburnett Community School District and College Community School District

LINN COUNTY, IA – February 5, 2020 – Early, absentee voting begins Monday, February 10 in Linn County for the Alburnett Community School District and the College Community School District Special Elections.

Voting In-Person

Beginning Monday, February 10, Linn County voters residing in the Alburnett Community School District or College Community School District may vote in-person at the Election Services Department of the Linn County Auditor’s Office. The office is located in the Linn County Public Service Center, 935 2nd St. SW in Cedar Rapids. Office hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m-5 p.m. In-person absentee voting continues through Monday, March 2.

College Community School District crosses into Johnson and Benton counties. Voters from Johnson or Benton counties should contact their respective Auditor’s office for voting information.

Voting by Mail

Voters may request to have an absentee ballot mailed to them. The last day voters can request ballots by mail is Friday, February 21, 2020.

Absentee voters may return their ballot by mail or hand-deliver their ballot to the Election Services Department. Ballots returned by mail must be postmarked on or before Monday, March 2 in order to be counted.

Satellite Voting

A satellite voting option will be available. Linn County voters may choose to vote from 2-9 p.m. on Friday, February 14 at the Prairie High School new main entrance located at 401 76th Ave. SW in Cedar Rapids. Johnson and Benton County voters may request absentee ballots at this event.

Election Day Vote Centers

Election Day is Tuesday, March 3. The polls will be open from 7 a.m.-8 p.m.

Alburnett Community School District voters may vote at either of the following locations:

· Alburnett United Methodist Church, 221 S. Main St., Alburnett

· King of Kings Lutheran Church, 3275 N. Center Point Rd. NE, Cedar Rapids

College Community School District voters (for Linn County only) may vote at any one of the following three locations:

· College Community Schools District Office, 401 76th Ave. SW, Cedar Rapids

· Ely Public Library, 595 Dows St., Ely

· Fairfax Public Library, 313 Vanderbilt St., Fairfax

Election Portal

Go to linncountyelections.org to gain access to all election-related information for Linn County.

The following can be viewed or downloaded:

· Absentee ballot request forms

· Voter registration forms

· Sample ballots

· Election Day information

Dates & Deadlines

Due Date Event / Deadline
2/10/2020 Absentee Voting Begins
2/21/2020 Last Day to Pre-register to Vote for this Election
2/21/2020 Last Day to Request an Absentee Ballot to be Mailed
3/2/2020 Last Day to Vote In-Person Absentee (Linn County Auditor’s Office)
3/3/2020 Election Day
3/9/2020

First Canvass of Votes

3/16/2020 Second Canvass of Votes

For questions regarding this election, call the Linn County Election Services Office at 319-892-5300, ext. 1 or email elections.

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News coverage on HAVA complaint: Linn County Auditor v Iowa Secretary of State

January 17, 2020

A hearing on the motion to dismiss my HAVA complaint began at 10am this morning (1/17/2020). On a 2-1 vote, the Iowa Voter Registration Commission (the Presiding Officer) dismissed my complaint, ignoring Federal law, which required a hearing.

Unfortunately, this decision by the Presiding Officer set a precedent that any complaint filed against the Iowa Secretary of State can be dismissed without a hearing on the complaint.

“If you see something, say something.” I did that and never got my “day in court.” We all lost something today.

Here are the online news stories thus far:

https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/investigations/2020/01/17/iowa-linn-county-auditor-complaint-voter-registration-vulnerable-dismissed/2774034001/

https://www.thegazette.com/subject/news/government/joel-miller-voters-commission-shoots-down-linn-county-auditors-complaint-over-election-security-20200117

Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

The saga of my HAVA … complaint

January 16, 2020

If you want to listen-in on the motion to dismiss hearing on my HAVA complaint on the Iowa Secretary of State, please dial-in the conference call number below before 10am on Friday, 1/17/2020.

Sound quality and phone line availability are not guaranteed, but it is a public hearing and ALL ARE WELCOME TO LISTEN, but not speak (there is no public comment period on the agenda).   Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

From: Widen, Molly [SOS] [Molly.Hammer@sos.iowa.gov]
Sent: Thursday, January 16, 2020 3:06 PM
Subject: Conference Call Information

Good Afternoon,

Please use the following information to call in to tomorrow’s meeting. I will stand the line up a few minutes before 10:00 AM.

Conference Call Number: 866-685-1580

Conference Code: 0009990334

Sincerely,

Molly M. Widen – Legal Counsel – Office of Iowa Secretary of State Paul D. Pate

HAVA hearing rescheduled

December 20, 2019

The hearing on the Iowa Secretary of State’s motion to dismiss my HAVA complaint has been rescheduled for 1pm on December 30th in the Iowa Secretary of State’s Lucas Building Office in Des Moines. For details on the complaint – see https://lcauditor.wordpress.com/?s=hava

Until then,

Happy Holidays!

Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

From: Widen, Molly [SOS] <Molly.Hammer>
Sent: Friday, December 20, 2019 9:49 AM
Subject: VRC Hearing

Good Morning:

This email is being sent out on behalf of the Voter Registration Commission. Any questions about the content of this email, or the hearing generally, should be directed to Commissioner Charlie Smithson. Therefore, DO NOT REPLY TO THIS EMAIL.

The Voter Registration Commission has rescheduled their hearing for Monday, December 30th at 1:00 p.m. The hearing will take place in the Secretary of State’s Lucas Building Office, in the Large Conference Room.

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

Iowa Secretary of State not transparent

December 17, 2019

On 12/13/2019, I filed a complaint on the Office of the Iowa Secretary of State for failure to comply with Chapter 22 of the Code of Iowa.  The hearing officer in Case #19FC:0144 will be the Iowa Public Information Board.

Unfortunately, my track record with the SoS is poor.  On 7/1/2019, I mailed them a public records request for information regarding IVoters development from January 2018 to the present.  They allegedly complied with my request by sending me one December 2017 email and classified everything else as confidential.

The SoS did not even bother to acknowledge or respond to the five public records requests in my complaint.  That is brazen of them.  If they are not complying with public records requests from other elected officials, how are they treating John Q. Public?  – Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor


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