Archive for the ‘Elections’ Category

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 [mailto:tweipert@co.johnson.ia.us]
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 https://www.legis.iowa.gov/legislation/BillBook?ba=HF516&ga=87 )

“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

856429.pdf

Voting equipment is expensive

April 4, 2017

Prior to June 2016, Linn County purchased new voting equipment and used it in the 2016 primary and general elections. As I indicated in my March 7th blog post and during my public testimony to the Iowa House State Government Committee that equipment cost over $834K. The attachment provides a breakdown of the line items included in the $834K cost for Linn County’s 86 precincts.

If you voted at the polls on either election day in 2016, you ballot was scanned and your votes counted by our new precinct scanners. If you voted absentee, then your ballot was scanned and your votes counted by our new high speed ballot scanners.

I think I thanked you at last year’s State of the County luncheon, but if you did not attend that event, then Thank You taxpayers for providing the funding for this new equipment! Administering elections costs thousands of tax dollars. And based upon the election legislation pending in the Legislature, our costs are going to increase in the future. –Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

Equipment Cost.pdf

Will requiring a Voter ID to vote increase voter turnout in Iowa’s future elections?

March 24, 2017

Yesterday, the Iowa Senate approved HF516 with several amendments.  So now it goes back to the House and/or a conference committee comprised of House & Senate members for consideration.

What do you think?

One of the Senate’s amendments included a provision to rotate names on the ballots between each precinct.  It was not debated by the Senate and we are not certain our voting system can create a ballot that conforms to the proposed law.

Here is what we believe a rotation for supervisor might look like under the proposed law:

Supervisor-at-Large – Pct 1
Republican A
Republican B
Republican C
Democrat A
Democrat B
Democrat C
Libertarian A
Libertarian B
Green A
Green B
Supervisor-at-large – Pct 2
Democrat B
Democrat C
Democrat A
Republican B
Republican C
Republican A
Libertarian B
Libertarian A
Green B
Green A
Supervisor-at-large – Pct 3
Republican C
Republican A
Republican B
Democrat C
Democrat A
Democrat B
Libertarian A
Libertarian B
Green A
Green B

By Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

Update (5:53pm – 3/24/2017):  Per Iowa Secretary of State’s Office, our newly purchased (2016) voting system cannot create the ballot rotation proposed in HF516.

Pate & Miller on Voter ID bill – WMT interviews

March 22, 2017

Iowa Secretary of State (SoS) Paul Pate was interviewed by Drivetime 380 on Monday, March 20th.  I was inteviewed on Tuesday, March 21st.  Both interviews are posted here.

He and I do not agree on the cost of an ePollbook or how many ePollbooks are needed per precinct in Linn County. He indicates the bill currently does not require Linn County to buy ePollbooks, but admits we will likely want to, which is correct. Pate states we can borrow the money to buy the ePollbooks. I admit we can borrow the money, but someone has to pay back the loan. That “someone” is the taxpayers of Linn County.

So let’s play this out on a statewide basis. According to testimony offered in the Iowa House of Representatives during the debate of HF516 – (I was in the House gallery during the debate) – 600 precincts in Iowa do not have ePollbooks. If that’s true and the average number of ePollbooks required in those precincts equals three and the per ePollbook cost is $870, then 3 x $870 x 600 = $1,566,000 That’s $1.5M to be borrowed from a revolving loan fund that that has yet to be funded. And that’s $1.5M that has to be paid back to the State of Iowa by the county taxpayers residing in 20 plus Iowa counties.

If you’re wondering: Why only three ePollbooks per precincts? The SoS assumes three per precinct based upon Johnson County, which does not need as many ePollbooks per precinct due to 50% of its voters voting early before election day. In the November 2016 election, only 35% of Linn County’s voters voted early; hence, we have more voters at the polls and that’s why I believe we need an average of four (4) ePollbooks per precinct.

If the true cost of the loan fund and some of the other costs associated with this bill would have been included in the bill, it would have been dead on arrival in the House due to the State’s financial condition. Instead, HF516 only includes a measly $50K to educate the State’s 2 million voters. HF516 – the Voter ID bill – is a bad bill and I am opposed to it because in the end, it’s going to increase the taxes paid by Linn County’s taxpayers. – Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

“Revolving loan fund” is legislative double-speak for “unfunded mandate”

March 16, 2017

So the Iowa Secretary of Secretary of State and the Iowa House Majority want to modernize Iowa’s election system with ePollbooks. I agree with them – every county should have ePollbooks in every precinct so every Iowa voter has the same experience whether you reside in Adams County, Polk County, or Linn County.

The rub? The SoS and the House Majority do not want to pay for it. They want to loan Linn County money for the ePollbooks. Don’t loans have to be paid back? Of course they do! And by who? The taxpayers of Linn County; hence, I have said all along that the “revolving loan fund” is legislative double-speak for an “unfunded mandate”.

If I don’t “modernize” our precincts by buying ePollbooks, then every voter registering to vote on election day who cannot be checked with an ePollbook against an SoS provided Felon List has to vote a provisional ballot. And that provisional ballot will not be counted until it’s cleared the Felon List. In the November 2016 election, 510 voters voted provisionally. I’m guessing we will accumulate several thousand provisional ballots in the next general election if we do not have ePollbooks in every precinct.

I project Linn County’s start-up costs to implement HF516 to be at least $392K or greater – see attached spreadsheet for details.

I will be commenting on this topic in the future. -Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

Fiscal Impact of HF516.xls

HF516: Creating a patchwork of ePollbooks across the State

March 7, 2017

Testimony by Linn County Auditor Joel D. Miller to the House State Government Committee on 6 March 2017 at the Capitol in Des Moines, Iowa

Chairman Rizer and Honorable Committee:

I am Joel Miller, County Auditor and Commissioner of Elections for Linn County. I have been a county auditor for just over 10 years. I have overseen 54 elections in which about one million ballots have been cast.

I am against HF516 for a number of reasons, but my primary reason is that it does not go far enough to ensure that Iowa does not have a “patchwork” of some counties using ePollbook technology and some not.

Patchwork seems to be the operative word legislators have used for wanting to dismantle the minimum wage ordinances passed in several counties. Why would the Legislature allow a patchwork of voting technology to be used in Iowa’s elections?

Currently, Linn County is one of the 20 plus counties not using ePollbooks. Under HF516, a revolving loan fund would be available to Linn County.

In my February 22nd email to you Rep Rizer, I copied Reps Zumbach and Taylor, and indicated the cost for Linn County to buy ePollbooks for our 86 precincts is over $278K. I informed you that Linn County just spent over $834K for new ballot scanners and ADA devices. Linn County set aside funds over a four year period in order to buy that election equipment.

In that same February 22nd email, I wrote that “ePollbooks in every precinct in the State is the direction we should be headed – I have no doubt about that”.

Rep Rizer, you named HF516 the “Election Modernization and Integrity Act” How are you modernizing elections: If some counties have ePollbooks and some don’t? How are you modernizing elections: If there is no deadline for every county in the State to have ePollbooks? How are you modernizing elections: If no one can agree upon what an ePollbook is, e.g., the Secretary of State has one version and the County Auditors’ Association has another?

And what good does it do to modernize the precincts with ePollbooks when the Secretary of State has compared the Statewide Voter Registration system to a computer operating on Windows 95?

Yes, Honorable Committee, we need to modernize the equipment we use at our precincts for elections. We need ePollbooks in every precinct connected to the Statewide Voter Registration system in real-time. And that Honorable Committee is going to take more than a revolving loan fund.

The taxpayers of Linn County spent almost $835K to administer elections in calendar year 2016. That’s more than this bill proposes to loan to the entire State to modernize our elections.

Honorable Committee, I urge you to vote down HF516 until you find a way to fund the modernization you are indicating that Linn County and other counties need to increase the integrity of our elections. The last thing this State needs is a patchwork of ePollbooks scattered about the State.

In response to some previous speakers who impugned the reputation of elections in Linn County, I say,“Yes, voters live in motels and hotels- I know, I verified they lived there. Yes, voters arrive in busses from independent living facilities – I know, I’ve seen them arrive”. (cutoff by the Chair)

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


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