Skip to comments.Linn Auditor catches likely violation
Posted on 04/15/2014 4:39:36 AM PDT by iowamark
CEDAR RAPIDS Iowas heavily used absentee voting system is open to irregularities and sloppy shortcuts that actually are violations of law, said Joel Miller, Linn County auditor and commissioner of elections.
As a case in point, Miller has identified an example in recent days in which it appears a door-to-door campaign worker in the 1st Congressional District race accepted paperwork from a resident who signed an official absentee ballot request form for herself and for someone else living at the address.
An individual voter can sign only one request form and cannot sign a form for a spouse or other adult, Miller said, citing Iowa law.
Miller has referred the matter to the Linn County Sheriffs Office, which has opened a case in the matter, Linn County Sheriff Brian Gardner said Monday.
Campaign election workers are now hustling in Linn County and elsewhere in Iowa before the June primary race as they work voter lists to get likely voters to request an absentee ballot.
Campaign workers in Linn County then take the request forms to Millers county office, which mails out an absentee ballot to those who have submitted the request form.
One of Millers staff members noticed two request forms from the same address that appeared to be signed by the same person. Millers election staff then looked at signatures from previous election documents submitted to his office, and determined that one of the two people at the address had a different signature than the one on the just-submitted request form.
Miller said his central intent in raising the matter now is public education. He said he wants to alert candidates, their campaign workers and local voters about the demands of Iowas election law and to remind them that violating Iowa election law can be a felony.
I dont want to run into any more of this, so Im speaking out now, he said. The election is six weeks away. Things are going to get more intense.
How many more came through our door and we didnt catch them? That its happened once makes me think its happened since and will probably happen again before the primary is over.
Miller said some campaign workers come from out of state, perhaps arent that familiar with the specifics of Iowa campaign law and are motivated to get as many voters to sign up with absentee ballots as possible. But that is no excuse, he said.
Its the fault of one voter for signing two forms, and its the fault of the campaign worker who saw the voter doing that and not telling them I cant take the second one I can only take yours, Miller said.
Miller said some 49,000 people in Linn County voted via absentee ballot in the 2012 presidential election, and he predicted that more than 50 percent of the Linn County vote will be by absentee ballot, perhaps as soon as the 2016 presidential election.
His larger concern is improving Iowas voting system to prevent one person in a residence of multiple voters from actually casting all the ballots in the residence and mailing them back with bogus signatures.
He said Iowa needs some sort of system of signature verification so a scanner can verify that a person who signs the affidavit with the mailed-in absentee ballot has the same signature as the person had when registering to vote or when he or she filled out some other public document.
As it stands now, his office has not the ability nor expertise to eyeball the signatures on all the absentee ballots to make sure the registered voter is actually sending in the ballot, he said.
Being the good-natured Iowans, being Iowa-nice, so to speak, we assume that the ballots are being voted by the voters we mail the ballots to, Miller said. And the law requires us to assume that.
Johnson County Auditor Travis Weipert on Monday said he appreciates Millers concern, but he said other loopholes concern him more. Hed like to see a centralized database accessible by every county auditor, he said, so auditors know when a person has voted in one county are caught if they try to vote in another.
Another problem in Johnson County is to contain overzealous voters who put up electioneering signs too close to polls when he sets up mobile voting sites, he said.
While the absentee voting apparatus was designed well for military members....it’s ill-conceived and abused for just about everyone else using it. With the exception of nursing home residents and military....I think it probably is the right time to out-law it and dissolve it’s state by state usage.
Given that everyone is accepting of early-voting now....let’s just make it for the average guy, with early voting, which runs to hours after 6PM and on weekends...at least at the county office.
Good and we need more like Miller. We need to get back to one day voting and severely limit absentee voting. It’s an invitation to fraud.
Even though I have at times in the past voted with an absentee ballot, IMO the practice of voting should be IN PERSON and NO ABSENTEE BALLOTS allowed. The use of absentee ballots has gotten so widespread, it has only increased the chances for voter fraud. Speaking with our local area voting clerk recently, she advised AB’s have increased over 60% in the past two elections and she knows there has been voter fraud connected with those votes. Thus far, nothing has been done to stop the practice that I am aware of.
I agree, except I think that overseas military personnel should get the chance to vote.
The only time I ever registered as a Democrat, it was to vote in the primary for the incumbent Miller and against the Dem establishment candidate, a former Cedar Rapids Finance Commissioner.
Miller's always butting heads with his fellow Democrat elected officials. I like him.