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


Cedar Rapidians: Plan to vote in the 12/5 runoff election!

November 8, 2017

On 3 December 2013, a runoff election was held in the City of Cedar Rapids and 8.75% of the registered voters cast a ballot. Yesterday, 20.29% (unofficial) of the City’s registered voters cast a ballot. The irony in the 2013 Runoff is that the top vote getter (Swore) in the regular city election collected more votes (7,950) than were cast between the four candidates in the runoff (7,896). Maybe the framers of the Charter for the City of Cedar Rapids thought that less participation in a runoff was a great way for the runoff winners to begin their terms, but it is certainly no mandate by the voters.

Maybe Clark Rieke is right? He has been pushing instant runoff voting (IRV) aka ranked choice voting since I was nominated to run for county auditor in December of 2006. Maybe the Cedar Rapids Charter should be changed from a runoff election to a primary election? IRV is not an option in Iowa unless the Legislature changes our laws to allow it. And I do not see any incentive for a Charter Commission to change CR’s Charter. So what can I do to get every person engaged in local government?

The least I can do if to inform every household in the City of Cedar Rapids that we are having an election on December 5th. The Auditor’s Office will do that via the attached postcard or something similar. Far too often, eligible voters tell me that they did not know an election was coming. And who expects an election in December after Thanksgiving and before Christmas? We have not had an election in December in four years.

So I am going to bite the bullet and spend my budget on these postcards and hope the City of Cedar Rapids reimburses me for the cost. And if they do not, I will eat the cost.

My team and I are going to do our best to lower the obstacles to participate in the December 5th Cedar Rapids Runoff Election. You can do your part by voting early or on election day, and by encouraging your fellow Cedar Rapidians to vote. Please note, the decision to mail out these postcards is my decision and my decision alone. At this time, I have not received any requests or comments about the postcards because it was conceived by me. –Joel D. Miller – Linn County AuditorVision: Every person engaged in local government.

Cedar Rapids.pdf

CR Runoff Election 12-3-2013.pdf

City elections: What if an incumbent city council member is elected as mayor?

November 7, 2017

Cedar Rapids, Palo, and Alburnett have city council members running for mayor whose terms do not expire until 31 December 2019. If any of these council members are elected mayor, then their respective city councils will need to decide on how to fill the vacancy on the city council created by their election to mayor.

Please read the attachment for more details on the process. –Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

attachment 1.pdf

New! Free! Precinct election results reporting tool for tonight’s Metro area cities

November 7, 2017

One of my teammates created a precinct-by-precinct map of the Cedar Rapids metro area cities which will turn colors as precinct results are reported to our office – see The map will be active at 8:01pm tonight when the early voting / absentee precinct results are posted.

An off-the-shelf comparable product sells for about $15,000.oo Our map was created in-house so if works and sustains your use of it – hurray! Enjoy it! -Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

DEFCON 25 Voting machine hacking report

November 2, 2017

Every election administrator in our country should read this report because it should spark some ideas for improvement. And in 2018, DEFCON is going to expand its analysis – see page 16.

So we have a choice: be part of the solution or part of the problem. -Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor & Commissioner of Elections

DEF CON 25 voting village report.pdf

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

Mayors versus city managers

October 20, 2017

I am not a resident of Cedar Rapids, but I attended the League of Women Voters Mayors Forum earlier this week. I left the forum wondering who I would vote for if I could vote for mayor in the Cedar Rapids election. I asked Cedar Rapids City Manager Jeff Pomeranz who he is going to vote for. He just laughed.

So that got me to wondering. Several Linn County cities have city managers and city administrators, but in the majority of our cities the city clerks and/or mayors run the day-to-day operations of the cities. What qualifications are needed by a candidate elected to be the mayor of a city which has a city manager or city administrator?

Which cities have managers or administrators? I could not recall so I looked it up here and listed them below:

Alburnett – Mayor/city clerk

Bertram – Mayor / city clerk

Cedar Rapids – City Manager

Center Point – City Administrator

Central City – City Administrator

Coggon – Mayor / city clerk

Ely – City Administrator/city clerk

Fairfax – Mayor / city clerk

Hiawatha – City Administrator

Lisbon – City Administrator / city clerk

Marion – City Manager

Mount Vernon – City Administrator

Palo – Mayor / city clerk

Prairieburg – Mayor / city clerk

Robins – Mayor / city clerk

Springville – Mayor / city clerk

Walford – Mayor / city clerk

Walker – Mayor / city clerk

I am not saying the cities with managers or administrators do not have mayors, councils, or city clerks. I am saying that several cities have professional managers or professional administrators in addition to mayors, councils, and city clerks.

If a city has a professional manager or professional administrator, what qualifications does the mayor need to possess? I asked one of my doctors that question and he said, “He/she needs to be able to go to coffee with people, preside over council meetings, and have good customer service skills”. Maybe it is that simple? I would add leadership, vision, and the confidence to represent the city. But do they need a PhD and 20 years of management experience when a professional manager/administrator is in place? That is something for you to decide. Please figure it out by election day. –Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

More candidates means more early voting. Right?

October 19, 2017

Not necessarily.

Take a look at the graphs comparing the early voting for this year’s city elections with the early voting in the 2013 and 2015 city elections:



Those graphs illustrate the in-person early/absentee voting in the Auditor’s Office and the vote by mail ballots.

Generally, the more candidates, the more early voting. And while I appreciate the number of candidates who have decided to put their names on the ballots and engage the public on the issues, I am not seeing a stampede of voters voting early.

I think the reason for the lack of a stampede is this: great candidates equals tough decisions. That is a nice problem to have. Please figure it out by election day. –Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

Hacker study: Russia could get into U.S. voting machines

October 10, 2017

ProCircular, the firm I hired to conduct a cybersecurity audit of Linn County’s election infrastructure forwarded the attached article from Politico (10/9/2017) to me. The part that caught my attention that may be related to the voting machines the County owns is: “Parts and programs that could easily be embedded with malware and sleeper commands are being incorporated from all over the world, from suppliers and shippers without clear security measures. That easily opens the possibility that a country with large resources and a long-term view—like Russia—could get access”.

I will be awaiting the release of the findings, which unfortunately the “bad guys” will be also be privy to. Then again, the bad guys probably know more about our vulnerabilities than our State and Federal election officials have shared with us. That needs to change since it’s local officials who administer the nation’s elections AND NOT State and Federal officials. –Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

Hacker study_ Russia could get into U.S.pdf

Upcoming city candidate forums – an opportunity to engage candidates

October 10, 2017

Here is a link to a list of city candidate forums to be held in Linn County – If you are aware of additional forums or you spot errors/omissions in the list, please email me. – Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

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