Archive for the ‘Elections’ Category

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



Learn how the new Voter ID law will affect you

May 19, 2017

If you did not attend our open houses on the new Voter ID law earlier this week, then you will have another opportunity to see our presentation at 9am on Monday, May 22nd, during the Linn County Board of Supervisors meeting – see attached agenda. The Board meetings are open to the public and Election Services employees will be around after the presentation to answer your questions. Please join us. –Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

5-22 Board of Supervisors Agenda.pdf

NEWS RELEASE: Linn County Temporary Redistricting Commission Appointed

May 17, 2017

Linn County Temporary Redistricting Commission Appointed

LINN COUNTY, IA – May 17, 2017 – A five-member temporary redistricting commission was appointed this week by the Linn County Board of Supervisors. Iowa code instructs the Board of Supervisors to establish the Commission by May 15, 2017 following the November 2016 election where Linn County voters voted to reduce the membership of the Linn County Board of Supervisors from five to three.

According to Iowa code, the members of the Board of Supervisors in the majority party appoint the majority number of commission members, while the Board minority party member(s) appoints the minority number of commission members.

The temporary redistricting commission members are:

Ray Dochterman

Cindy Golding

Sarah Halbrook

Dave Mahachek

Nate Willems

Linn County is currently represented by Board of Supervisor districts under “Plan 3”. According to Iowa code, new supervisor districts must be designated by December 15, 2017, unless a valid petition is filed by June 1, 2017 requesting a special election on the representation plan.

All three supervisor seats will be on the ballot during the general election in November 2018. The three member Board of Supervisors will take office January 2, 2019.

For more information, contact:  Barbara Schmitz – Executive Assistant to the Board of Supervisors – 319-892-5101 –


Learn about the new Voter ID law now

May 16, 2017
Today, over 100 people attended an informational session on the new Voter ID law. We have additional one hour sessions available on Wednesday, May 17th from 3 – 6 PM and on Thursday, May 18th from 4 – 7 PM.

These informational sessions cover the new Voter ID law, ePollbooks, as well as, information on the 2016 General Election and upcoming Elections. Sessions are targeted for current and prospective Precinct Election Officials (poll workers), the public, elected officials, and the media. Sessions will be held at the Linn County Public Service Center at 935 2nd Ave SW on the 2nd floor across from the main Elections Office.

You do not need to be present for the whole three hours. It is a drop-in and look around event. Someone will be speaking at 15 minutes after the hour. We are encouraging interested individuals to sign up at: so that we can better plan for how many to expect. Please join us. –Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

County going from 5 to 3 supervisor districts in 2019

May 13, 2017

Looks like the Linn County Board of Supervisors is going to begin the task of dividing the County into three equally populated districts – see item in bold red below. I thought we would have a special election to pick a supervisor representation plan in August, but the June 1st deadline for the petitioners to submit a petition is fast approaching and I have not seen any signature gathering occurring.

Why appoint a Temporary County Redistricting Commission now? The June 2018 primary election is a "short" thirteen months away and the incumbent supervisors (and others including yours truly) are going to want to know who is included in the district they will potentially be representing. Which supervisors will become immediate competitors and which will enjoy no obvious competition will be decided by a few lines on a map?

I anticipate lots of competition and a vigorous public debate in the three 2018 supervisor races. After all, our county supervisors are paid over $100K per year with great benefits and a pension for a position that seems to be treated as a part-time job by one or more supervisors. And since no candidate will have the advantage of a straight party ballot, we might even see a few independents nominated by petition on the ballot. Heck, maybe an independent will get elected?

Hopefully, the public debate will focus on county policy, county operations, and county services and NOT on assassinating each other’s character. As we have seen on the national stage, character assassination is the norm when the facts are scarce.

Have you thought about running for county supervisor? Or public office? It is not too late to consider a run for school board or city office yet this year. And it is not too early to consider running for office in 2018 as I have already talked to candidates campaigning for the 2018 election.

About fifty thousand (50,000) adults in Linn County did not vote in the November 2016 general election. That fact reinforces my conclusion that the problem with our democracy is not that too many people are involved; on the contrary, not enough people are involved. -Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

5-15 Board of Supervisors Agenda.pdf

HF516 implementation and TBD

May 10, 2017

As you may have read, the Governor signed House File 516 – the Voter ID bill last week. Some of the initial provisions of HF516 take effect on 7/1/2017, i.e., about 50 days from now. My team is holding an initial training session on the law next week and we will be referencing the attachments from the Secretary of State … so if you are interested, sign-up at

If you reside in Linn County, why not become a PEO (precinct election official) so you can understand the law and administer elections in your precinct. Priority seating will be given to Linn County’s PEOs. –Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

Misc Provisions Chart HF 516.docx

Voter Integrity Bill – General Timeframe.docx

Voter Registration – HF 516 Implementation.docx

Voter ID – HF 516 Implementation.docx

Absentee Analysis – 2017 Integrity Act.docx

Statement by Auditor Weipert upon the passage of HF516 Voter ID Bill

April 13, 2017

I agree with the Johnson County Auditor’s press release – see below; especially his comment that “None of these provisions does (sic) anything to help people vote”.

Whenever I ask the question: Will this bill increase voter turnout in our elections? No one has answered YES. One person responded with, “Why should I care?”

I will tell you why we should care. We should care because our right to vote is a fundamental building block in our democracy. Voting is how we choose civil leaders; it’s how we peacefully transition power from one elected leader to the next. It’s the one right we exercise that is equal to, but not greater than anyone’s else right to vote. Voting is the easiest way to participate – to engage – in our democracy.

Yes, I would like to see every voter make an informed choice, but that’s not a requirement. And from what I have observed, most voters only vote in races and/or for candidates they know something about. For instance, another law that will combine city elections with school elections is stoking fear that the voters will vote on races they know nothing about. Do you do that?

There is nothing in HF516 that leads me to believe it will increase voter turnout. And if you dare to call me, I will tell you why I think it will increase the opportunity for impostors to illegally cast ballots. In my ten years as Auditor, one impostor ballot has been cast amongst over one million ballots cast in Linn County. That is 1 ballot in over 1,000,000 ballots.

I will honor my oath of office and administer elections per the requirements of the law. I will also work as hard and smart as possible to ensure no voter is disenfranchised by HF516 or any other laws. And when and where I find wannabe voters who have been disenfranchised by our laws, I will yell and scream in the most civil of ways and work to dismantle the barriers to voting. That is not an option for me! -Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor – Vision: Every person engaged in local government.

From: Travis Weipert []
Sent: Thursday, April 13, 2017
Subject: FW: Statement by Travis Weipert on Passage of HF516 Voter ID Bill

Johnson County Auditor Travis Weipert issued the following statement on passage of the final version of House File 516, the voter ID bill (full text at )

“I am disappointed that the Legislature has taken this big step backward on voting rights. The only type of ‘fraud’ that a photo ID can address, voter impersonation, is simply non-existent.

This bill singles out voters who do not have Iowa drivers licenses. They will have to show a visibly different card in line. This calls attention to them and makes them more vulnerable to having their vote challenged. It also gets rid of the traditional voter card that gets sent to everyone, which many voters value and carry.

The voter ID bill also includes many unrelated items that do nothing to increase the integrity of elections:

· It shortens the time available for in person early voting. This forces voters who have made up their minds to wait, which makes the line longer for everyone.

· It shortens the window for mailing ballots to just 19 days, which decreases the chances that voters who have to send ballots a long distance will see their vote counted

· The bill eliminates the popular straight ticket option that nearly a third of Johnson County voters used last fall. This lengthens the voting process and as a result makes the lines longer.

· Poll workers with no professional training in handwriting analysis are forced to make judgements about signatures which may have changed over time.

· None of these provisions does anything to help people vote. The process will be longer and more difficult, and there’s no question that some people who were able to vote under previous laws will be unable to vote.

Nevertheless, this will be the law, and we will follow and enforce it. We urge voters to be cooperative with our staff and poll workers and respectful of the people behind you in line. We are not happy with this law, but the election process is the only way to change it.

The final paragraph of HF516 says that the Secretary of State, in consultation with county auditors and the public, “shall develop and implement a comprehensive and statewide public education plan.” I look forward to working with the Secretary of State’s office on this plan, and urge the Legislature and governor to fully fund it.” ###

Last presidential election cost $5.38 per vote

April 7, 2017

The 2016 presidential election cost Linn County’s taxpayers over $635,000 or $5.38 per vote. That cost was actually less than the 2012 presidential election due to the decreased cost of mailing out ballots (we used a mailing firm) and an overall decrease in mailed out & mailed back absentee ballots. In previous posts, I have detailed various unfunded mandates which are going to increase the cost of the 2020 presidential election if the pending House File #516 becomes law. Iowa’s elections are very expensive and you should be concerned as you are paying for them. –Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

Statement of Election Costs_110816.docx

Post election audits are going to cost you

April 6, 2017

The post-election audits required by the proposed Iowa House File #516 are going to cost you. In Linn and Johnson Counties, the estimated costs to conduct a post-election audit (hand-count) on ballots in the counties’ absentee precincts would  have  exceeded $19K, i.e., based upon the 2016 presidential election results.

Hopefully, absentee precincts will not be audited frequently, but when it occurs, it will be expensive.  And large counties with lots of precincts are likely to be audited more often if precincts are randomly selected versus counties being randomly selected.

This is could be yet another unfunded mandate courtesy of the Iowa Secretary of State, Legislature, and Governor.  -Joel D. Miller

Johnson County Absentees Cost Cost Per Ballot
41,795 $ 19,225.70 $ 0.460
Linn County Absentees Cost
42,170 $ 19,398.20


HF516: Voter suppression or election modernization?

April 6, 2017

I have yet to talk to anyone who believes HF516 – UP FINAL FOR FINAL DEBATE IN THE IOWA HOUSE TODAY (4/6) – is going to increase voter turnout. My poll posted below indicates the same.

HF516 is going to increase the cost of elections – see attached April 5th fiscal note. And if the full Senate version is upheld regarding ballot rotation, then Linn County would likely need to replace the $834K in voting equipment we purchased and deployed in 2016.

It’s time to light up your state representative’s cell phone with texts and phone calls, or call the Iowa House switchboard at 515-281-3221. It’s too late for emails and other mail.

If you don’t like your new tax assessment, then you’re not going to appreciate the effect this bill is going to have on your taxes. -Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor


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