Don't let fraud reports discourage your vote

Linn County Auditor Joel Miller talks to voters as they stand in line to cast their ballot in during a 2013 special election in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Linn County Auditor Joel Miller talks to voters as they stand in line to cast their ballot in during a 2013 special election in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

Five suspected double-voters; seven felons who probably should not have voted; and 50 Election Day registrations with phony addresses in last November’s general election. I get it. Why should you bother to vote in future elections in the wake of these voter fraud reports in Linn County?

For starters, no one has been charged with any crimes. No one has been convicted. These numbers reflect the voters that I think violated the law. Will the FBI investigate? Will prosecutors charge anyone with a crime? I did my part by informing you and the FBI.

I want you to know that I am serious about maintaining the integrity of our elections and conducting fair elections. My staff, your precinct election officials, and I have zero tolerance for voter fraud.

Even if all 62 of the preceding were convicted of voter fraud, they would constitute 0.052 percent of the voters who voted in November. I concede it is not zero, and it probably never will be zero, but it is an indication that our office is being vigilant, open, and honest about elections in our county.

You might wonder whether the new voter ID law signed by former Gov. Terry Branstad would have prevented these violations. Nope. All of the violators were properly registered before the election or they registered to vote on Election Day. They all had IDs. They will not be difficult to find if the FBI decides to look for them.

So will you notice anything different at the polls at the upcoming Aug. 1 Linn County special election? Yes. You might notice a laptop at our solutions tables. We will use these to confirm that you are not on the felon list if you are registering to vote in Linn County for the first time. I spent about $30,000 of your money on laptops to reduce the number of provisional ballots that would be required if we could not check the felon list during elections.

Hopefully, I have convinced you that your vote will not be stolen and voter fraud, while not nonexistent, has not undermined the integrity of our elections. If I have convinced you, then you should vote in the upcoming Aug. 1 election and other elections.


Why should you vote on Aug. 1? For decades, Linn County elected three supervisors at-large, which was named Plan 1 in 1971. In 2008, voters elected supervisors by district. Those candidates for supervisor had to live in the same district as the voters (Plan 3). One downside: Voters only voted for one candidate and not all supervisors.

The last time we picked a plan, 97.68 percent of the voters chose a plan that divided the county into supervisor districts, i.e., Plans 2 or 3. The voters who voted wanted supervisor districts.

What do I think you should consider when voting on Aug. 1? Do you want to return to the plan we used for decades? If yes, vote Plan 1. Do you like districts? If yes, vote for Plan 2 or 3. Do you want to vote for one supervisor candidate nominated from your district? If yes, vote Plan 3.

In my opinion, Plan 3 — our current plan — allows the current county supervisors to become very focused on one-fifth of the county’s residents, i.e., their district. If your supervisor is a great advocate, he/she may be able to steer more than 20 percent of the county’s discretionary funds to your district. By the same token, a less aggressive supervisor might not steer as much toward his/her district or that supervisor may be taking a larger view of the county and the best overall use of county funds.

Anecdotally, a number of voters have told me that they want to be able to vote on each district’s candidates — not just the ones nominated from their district. The only plan that allows you to vote on all of the supervisors and ensures some geographic separation between supervisors is Plan 2 — the only plan we have not tried.

And finally, who do you call when you have a complaint about the county? Your district supervisor? Or all the county supervisors? And if you are dissatisfied with one or more supervisors, how will you vote? Under Plan 3, you can only vote for/against one candidate for supervisor. Under Plan 1 or 2, you will be able to vote for all of the supervisors. You have a very important choice to make on Aug. 1. Please choose wisely. Vote for Plan 1, 2, or 3.

l Joel Miller serves as Linn County auditor



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