Archive for the ‘Political’ Category

Bad Iowa felon list could reduce caucus attendance

December 13, 2019

Review finds 15 errors on ineligible felon voters list for 1 small Iowa county illustrates why a ‘Bad Iowa felon list could reduce caucus attendance.’  If you cannot register to vote, you cannot participate in the Iowa caucuses.

Recently, the Iowa Secretary of State vowed to have the Iowa Felon List (IFL) cleaned up prior to the November 2020 presidential election.  That’s not good enough!  Iowans will vote on (caucus for) presidential candidates on 2/3/2020.  Any errors in the IFL need to be corrected prior to 12/31/2019 before the political parties receive the official list of registered voters to be used for the caucuses.

Recently, I visited with an Assistant US District Attorney (USDOJ) and staffers for Senators Grassley and Ernst.  An edited version of my follow-up email to them is here.

In my email, I suggest the USDOJ file an injunction to prohibit the use of the IFL until it has been 100% audited and proven accurate.  The audit should be performed by an outside CPA firm – not government employees and not political parties.

The press has done its job by pointing out the IFL is bad.  Now is the time for someone at the Federal or State level to act to suspend the use of the IFL until it is fixed.  Who will right this injustice?  – Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

Miller running for re-election

December 4, 2019

I have had a few people question if I am running for re-election as Linn County Auditor in 2020.  I am.  In September, I started going door-to-door with my nomination papers.

Today, I talked to Chairman Brett Nilles of the Linn County Democratic Party and requested he include my nomination papers in the precinct packets to be distributed for the upcoming caucuses.

When I ran in 2016, I thought that would be my last run.  One son lived in Wisconsin and my wife and I wanted to see his family more.  Another son lived in Central Iowa and we wanted to see his family, too.  Thankfully, our daughter and her family live in the Metro area.  The weekend drives to Wisconsin and the balancing act between families was starting to take a toll on us.  Not running for re-election appeared to be the solution.

Earlier this year, my son, daughter-in-law, and grandkids from Wisconsin moved into a house about 200 feet from our home.  No more exhausting weekend drives.  The balancing act still continues, but it is manageable.

So yes, I am running to be the Democratic nominee for Linn County Auditor in the June 2020 primary election.  Family considerations are not necessarily a good reason to run for re-election, but they certainly can be a major reason not to run.

I have other reasons for running for re-election and I will share those at the appropriate time.  Until then, Happy Holidays!  Joel D. Miller – Grandfather.  Paid for by Miller for Auditor

Fake news and a kangaroo court

October 24, 2018

You may wonder why I did not attend today’s Linn County Board of Supervisors meeting.  Here are some of my reasons:

  • I anticipated it was going to be kangaroo court.  And after viewing the video recording of the meeting, there is no doubt it was indeed a kangaroo court. I am thankful I did not attend.  I have no doubt Supervisors Rogers, Walker, and Oleson would have piled on more fake news if I had been present.
  • I provided an update to the Board last week; however, only Supervisors Houser, Harris, and Rogers bothered to show up for that meeting. Then today, they pretend I deprived them of details.  They have the details.  Supervisor Rogers has asked for and received details on an almost daily basis.  The purpose of today’s meeting was to continue his witch-hunt.
  • Electioneering is the act of saying anything negative or positive about a candidate on the ballot in a polling place. I am a candidate on November 6th. For some reason, the Supervisors think their public Board meeting room is immune from the legal requirements of Iowa law Chapters 39A.4 and 53.10.  I cannot control what they do, but I control what I do; hence, I did not attend their meeting today in a building designated as a polling place.

After watching the video, it is clear that Supervisors Rogers, Walker, and Oleson are masters of fake news.  For example,

  • Rogers says, “The Secretary of State said in an email to Auditor Miller that he has not done enough to address this issue”.  Fake news:  I have not received any emails from Secretary of State Paul Pate. 
  • Walker said, “It’s almost criminal” what Miller has done.  Fake news:  There is nothing criminal about the sample ballot mailer.  Its purpose was to increase voter turnout, and inform and educate voters on election law changes, and allow them time to be informed about candidates on the ballot prior to Election Day.
  • Oleson said, “Some people have been disenfranchised from the vote”.  Fake news:  No proof exists that anyone has been disenfranchised. 
  • Oleson said, “Auditor Miller is personally, I mean he has never before personally collected the mail, and he’s going in and then personally collecting the mail, and then reviewing the allocation of votes on the sample ballots form, and then shredding them”.  Fake news and AN OUTRIGHT LIE:  I don’t touch the mail nor have I viewed any voted sample ballots or official ballots.  A team of Republican and Democrat election officials shred the sample ballots mistakenly returned to our office.
  • Oleson said, I bullied and stopped March for Our Lives students from registering voters. Fake news:  Students had set up a table to register voters within the confines of a polling place, i.e., within 300’ of the NewBo City Market satellite voting on 10/13/2018.  State law prohibits electioneering within 300’ and; unfortunately, someone told the students it was permissible to display photos of the Republican and Democratic candidates on the November 6th ballot along with information on those candidates.  Fortunately, no one who cared about the unfairness of this situation contacted my office to complain about the lack of Libertarian and other third-party candidates missing from the display photos and information.  I advised the students that they needed to display all of the candidates on the ballot or none of the candidates on the ballot.  The students rolled up the tablecloth and removed the entire display.  I told them, “I appreciated their efforts, but they needed to be fair to all candidates”; and they were not being fair.  Reminder:  Iowa ballots contain three major parties. 
  • Oleson said, “You are allowed to have forums within voting places”. Fake news from a fake lawyer:  The purpose of candidate forums is for candidates to answer questions and give their positions on issues.  As such, the candidates attending those forums are advocating for themselves or against their opponents – that is electioneering. 
  • Rogers said, no one has seen the letter sent to the voters who mistakenly returned their sample ballots. Fake news:  The letter was provided to Noah Tabor, Esq. – Voter Protection Director, Campaign for Iowa (Democratic Party), and to Deputy Iowa Secretary of State Ken Kline on 10/2/2018.
  • Rogers said, if we directed staff not to answer him, there would be a big stink.  Fake news:  Actually, the Board did direct its staff not to answer my questions regarding the Harris Building.  No stink – no news story. 
  • Walker said, “The Auditor had instructed the staff member to tell me to leave because of electioneering”. Fake news:  I never talked to my staff member about Stacey Walker being in the Library.  My staff member knows the law and the law states:  Loitering by candidates and others is prohibited in a polling place and the Cedar Rapids Public Library was a polling place.  Supervisor Walker appears to believe he is above the law.
  • Walker said, “The Commissioner of Elections is waltzing around this community acting as if he has the right to arrest people” and “telling citizens where they can and cannot be.”  Fake news:  I do not have the right to arrest anyone – that is law enforcement’s job.  I do not tell anyone where they can or cannot be.  I inform people what the law is and they decide what they should do.  The NAACP decided to relocate after being informed of the law.  In fact, Iowa State Senator Rob Hogg called me about the NAACP forum to ask if it complied with the law.  I told him that the NAACP had already decided to move.  

The Board spent about 22 minutes of their 26 minute meeting discussing the sample ballot mailing.  Imagine how long the meeting would have been if I had attended?

If I had attended the meeting, I have no doubt the meeting would have crossed the line from fact-finding to character assassination in seconds.  Even in my absence, my behavior was referred to as being “criminal” (Walker) and I was guilty of “malfeasance” (Oleson).  Those are not kind words to say about someone – that is electioneering.

Today’s meeting was a kangaroo court with Supervisor Rogers presiding, and Supervisors Walker and Oleson taking their turns at me.

The biggest disappointment is the ease with which Rogers, Walker, and Oleson spread fake news or outright lies, and this is but one 26 minute meeting.  Unfortunately, this is not the first time nor the last time they will spread fake news.

Thirteen days and counting.  Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

Response to Iowa Democratic Party and Secretary of State on 10/2/2018 re sample ballot mailer

October 24, 2018

In response to inquiries about the letter we have been sending to those voters who mistakenly returned their sample ballots to our office, I am providing the emails and attachments sent to the Iowa Democratic Party and the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office on 10/2/2018. For your information – Joel D. Miller – Linn County

From: Miller, Joel
Sent: Tuesday, October 02, 2018 6:08 PM
To: Ken Kline, [SOS] <Ken.Kline@sos.iowa.gov>
Cc: Stonawski, Rebecca <Rebecca.Stonawski@linncounty.org>
Subject: Fwd: Response to Inquiry re: Mailer from Campaign for Iowa

Ken,

I received your email re our mailer with sample ballot.

This morning, we responded to the Iowa Democratic Party with the email below including the attachments. In addition, we issued a press release last Friday and collaborated on The Gazette news story today.

Please let me know if you think there is something more my office needs to do regarding this matter.

Regards,

Joel

From: Stonawski, Rebecca
Sent: Tuesday, October 02, 2018 12:53 PM
To: ntabor
Cc: Miller, Joel <Joel.Miller>
Subject: Response to Inquiry re: Mailer from Campaign for Iowa

Mr. Tabor,

Thank you for your call this morning. Please find the attached documents as requested.

Sincerely,

REBECCA STONAWSKI
Deputy Commissioner of Elections

Tabor Letter.docx

Sample Ballot returned voted.docx

Letter Mockup 20180906 EPL.pdf

Voter registration party changes from the caucuses

February 9, 2018

The numbers below represent the changes in voters’ party preferences as a result of the political party caucuses held on Monday, February 5th. These changes reflect those that voted with their feet and attended the caucuses on a snowy night versus those who opted to stay home.

I don’t think you can draw any conclusions from these numbers, but I am certain someone will try. – Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

Party Change Counts
Party Changes Number of Changes
Democrat to Republican 3
No Party to Democrat 19
No Party to Republican 2
Other to Democrat 2
Republican to Democrat 2

County elected officials getting 3% raises

January 30, 2018

On 1/29/2018, the Linn County Compensation Board met, i.e., four of them attended in-person and three called into the meeting. After consideration of the documents received prior to the meeting (see mine below) and the comments at the meeting, the Board recommended a three percent (3%) increase for all elected officials. If the Compensation Board’s increase is approved by the Linn County Board of Supervisors, the following elected official salaries will go into effect on 7/1/2018:

Attorney – $176K – see Code of Iowa Chapter 331.751–331.759 et al for a description of the duties;

Sheriff – $152K – see Chapter 331.651–331.661 et al;

Recorder and Treasurer – $110K – see 331.601–331.611 et al and 331.551–331.559 et al, respectively; and

Supervisors and Auditor – $107K – see Chapter 331 et al and 331.501–331.512 et al, respectively.

Considering that the income in half the households in Linn County is $60,989 per year or less; and considering that the Attorney, Recorder, Treasurer, and all three Supervisor jobs are on the ballot in 2018; I would think the new salaries would spawn some competitive races in 2018. – Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

From: Miller, Joel
Sent: Friday, January 26, 2018 3:17 PM
To: Linn County Compensation Board

Subject: Input from Auditor re Monday’s Compensation Board meeting

Chairman Stefani et al,

Last year, I requested no increase in the salary for the County Auditor. This year, I am requesting that the salary of the County Auditor be increased by $3, 116.66, and then increased by whatever percentage increase the Recorder and Treasurer are awarded.

What’s changed? Prior to running in the June 2016 primary election, I publicly announced that I would not be seeking another term as County Auditor after the 2016 elections. In November of 2016, I was re-elected as Auditor and the voters decided to reduce the number of County Supervisors from five to three. For several months, I have been ….

I may not … and I most definitely will not be the Auditor on 2 January 2021.

So what do you want in your next Auditor? Who do you hope to attract to run for Auditor? What will skills, experience, and education should they bring to the job? The salary you set for the Auditor now and in subsequent years will determine who the applicants are for the job.

Does the status quo continue, i.e., the applicant pool comes from existing deputy auditors and/or other county employees? Or do you want to attract non-employee applicants, e.g., applicants with law degrees, MBAs, or CPAs?

I have attached a Excel spreadsheet from the Iowa State Association of Counties which indicates the FY18 (current year) salaries for the Auditor, Recorder, and Treasurer. I have sorted the spreadsheet using the Auditor v Recorder column. You can also sort it using the Auditor v Treasurer column.

Until your meeting last year, the Comp Board was adamant that the Auditor, Recorder, and Treasurer must be paid the same. Now, the Linn County Auditor along with the Clayton County Auditor are paid less than their respective County Recorders and Treasurers. Two other Auditors, i.e., Winneshiek and Cass are paid less than their respective Treasurers.

Two counties have eliminated the Office of County Recorder, i.e., Marshall and Woodbury counties, and their respective Auditors earn $3,557 and $2,142 more than their respective Treasurers, which is not much considering the responsibilities that were added onto them as Auditors & Recorders.

The spreadsheet also indicates that 44 counties pay their Auditors more than Recorders; and 41 counties pay their Auditors more than Treasurers. One county indicated the Auditor was paid more because he is the Board’s budget coordinator. One indicated that the difference in pay goes back to 1981 and no one remembers the justification. Two indicated their counties relied upon compensation studies to justify the difference in salaries, but they did not have any current studies available to me.

Since your meeting last year, I have asked the Board of Supervisors to include the county elected officials in a compensation study that is currently underway. The Human Resources Director was against amending the contract and the Board sided with her.

Perhaps, next year, when you meet, the Board can provide you with a compensation study.

In the meantime and at the very least, I ask that you consider increasing the salary of the Auditor to match the ultimate salaries given to the Recorder and Treasurer. ###

Auditor v Recorder v Treasurer 1-23-2018.xls

Qualifications to run for county supervisor

December 12, 2017

Now that the supervisor districts have been approved for Linn County (see previous post), it’s time for prospective candidates to review the map and reflect on whether the time is right for them to run for county supervisor. Per the attachment, the qualifications for Linn county supervisor candidates are:

1> Citizen at the time of the election. [§39.26];

2> Iowa resident at the time of the election. Registered voter of the county/supervisor district when sworn in;

3> 18 at the time of the election. [§39.26]; and

4> At least 150 nomination signatures or 1% of registered voters in the supervisor district as of July 1 of previous year.

Qualification #2 is intriguing because we have had candidates in recent elections who resided outside the supervisor district they would ultimately represent. Those candidates were not elected, but had they won, they would have needed to register to vote inside the supervisor district they were elected to represent. I wonder if any candidate residing in one supervisor district will run in another supervisor district in the 2018 election cycle?

I was talking with a well-known Linn County resident last night and I encouraged him to seek political office – not just because he was well-known, but because he’s highly educated, has excellent job experience, and is a great communicator. He said to me that he did too many wild things when he was young and that he would never be elected because of them. I suggested to him that if you have to be a perfect person to be elected to office, then no one would be in office. Think about it! -Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

Candidate qualifications guide.pdf

Supervisor redistricting plan approved by LSA

December 11, 2017

The Gazette reported on Friday, December 8th, that the Supervisor redistricting plan for Linn County was approved by the Legislative Services Agency. The official letter from the LSA, as well as, the official map of the districts is attached.

Prospective candidates for county supervisor should confirm which district they reside in or plan to reside in if elected before circulating nomination papers as those papers need to be signed by the residents of the district in order to be valid. And one detail that needs to be resolved is which district’s winning candidate will initially serve a two-year term versus the other two winners serving four year terms. Enjoy! -Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

LSA Review Approved.pdf

Mock election results for CR mayor

November 9, 2017

On Election Day (11/7/2017), students at Roosevelt Middle School in Cedar Rapids held a mock election for Cedar Rapids mayor. The students’ top voter getter differed substantially from Tuesday night’s final results.

Congratulations to the teachers and staff who sponsored this mock election! Congratulations to the students who conducted candidate research, a forum for candidates, and created campaign posters! I do not know how many “eligible” student voters participated, but I bet you put the adult eligible voter turnout to shame. – Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

Where did you sleep last night?

October 25, 2017

That is the question I sometimes ask when eligible residents are wanting to know what address to use when registering to vote. For most people, the answer is simple: your home address. That answer does not work for people who sleep in cars or under a bridge.

Fortunately, our voter registration form accommodates those voters by allowing registrants to “describe where you reside”; however, if you describe a place that the Post Office does not deliver mail to, then you will not receive your voter registration card and you will not be fully (100%) registered to vote.

If the place you live/sleep does not have an address the Post Office delivers to, then you need to provide us with a mailing address when you register to vote. That may mean you rent a post office box or talk someone into receiving your mail. The only way to receive your voter registration card is via the Post Office because the law prohibits us from handing you your card over the counter. Why? Because we use the Post Office to confirm you gave us a valid address.

Although you will never find the “where did you sleep last night” question in any election administrator’s handbook or the Code of Iowa, I have found that question helps eligible residents quickly decide where they should register to vote. When a registrant signs the voter registration form, they are affirming under the penalty of perjury that they “live at the address” they indicated on the voter registration form.

This year, I have received three inquiries about elected officials and where they are “living”. One inquiry was in the news and the other two were not. One inquiry concerned a member of the Cedar Rapids City Council and another concerned a member of the Iowa Senate.

I contacted the Senator after confirming the Senator’s voter registration address had changed to an address outside of the Senator’s district. The Senator had sold one home and had been living temporarily in an apartment outside the Senate district while a new home was being built. The Senator had already moved back into his/her Senate district at the time of my inquiry. Case closed.

Why did I follow-up on those two inquiries? The Code of Iowa (Chapter 69.5) states that county auditors have a duty to inform the Governor of vacancies in the Legislature, and vacancies occur when elected legislators no longer reside in their districts (Chapter 69.2).

I have no such duty to follow-up on inquiries about members of city councils. The city council is responsible for determining if a council position is vacant and twenty-five (25) registered voters of the city can petition the council and force them to determine if a vacancy exists.

I did not contact the Cedar Rapids city councilor. The councilor contacted me.

The councilor wanted me to know that s/he had always been a resident of CR even though his/her spouse owned a home outside of CR. I think the councilor even indicated s/he slept at the CR home every night. I told the councilor that the Council is responsible for determining if a vacancy has occurred on the Council, and since the Council has not notified me of a vacancy, one does not exist. Case closed.

Several years ago, I recall a former legislator boasting that he went to the residence of a legislative candidate and looked in the window of the home to see if the candidate was living in the residence. He reported he did not think the candidate was living there.

About four years ago, several people hired a private investigator to keep tabs on the living/sleeping habits of Marion’s mayor. The Marion City Council reviewed the evidence and concluded the mayor was a resident of Marion.

Every person registering to vote signs a voter registration form and attests to the accuracy of the information on the form under the penalty of perjury. Every person elected to a public office in Iowa takes an oath of office and swears to uphold the laws of Iowa and the United States (Chapter 63).

Our democracy is based upon geographic boundaries and we divide our geography into various political subdivisions. Where an elected official lives (and sleeps) matters. And the onus of whether a vacancy exists or does not exists resides with the elected official.

We can only hope that we are living among elected officials who have the integrity to resign from the office they hold if they are not “living” and sleeping (my criteria) within the political subdivision they were elected to represent. Don’t ask me to peek into a window. –Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor


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