116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Our “rogue auditor” is complying with the letter of state election law. And yet he’s being accused of playing politics in the non-partisan Linn-Mar School Board election.
At issue is the case of Geralyn Jones, who is running for Linn-Mar School Board. She’s conceded that 16 signatures on her nominating petition were provided by wives signing the names of their husbands. Under Iowa Code Chapter 39A, a person who falsely or fraudulently signs a petition on behalf of another person could be committing second-degree election fraud. An election official who allows it could be guilty of the same crime.
So when Linn County Auditor Joel Miller learned of the case and examined the evidence, he referred it to the Linn County Sheriff for investigation. That inquiry is underway.
But Jones contends she’s being dragged through the political mud.
“Let’s just say, our county auditor and our county Chair are democrats and are actively seeking to smear and discredit a strong conservative Republican woman by objecting and opening an investigation into my campaign,” Jones wrote on Facebook.
Last week, a special Election Objection Board convened by the Linn-Mar School Board decided the signatures issue was no big deal. It overturned an objection by district resident Bret Nilles, thus allowing Jones on the ballot. He argued her petition violates Iowa Code Chapter 45.5. And, yes, Nilles is chairman of the Linn County Democrats.
Nilles reviewed Jones’ petition online and found numerous pairs of signatures where it appeared both names were signed by one person. If tossed out, Jones would lack the 50 signatures needed to get on the ballot.
I listened to audio of the meeting, so it was tough to tell who, exactly, was talking. But one panel member found it “odd” Nilles was checking out the auditor’s website. Because they’re public documents?
Normally, it’s tough to prove signatures are improper. But amazingly, Jones went to the married couples in question and obtained signed, notarized affidavits saying husbands gave their wives permission to sign on their behalf. The affidavits removed all doubt that Jones’ petition contained signatures signed by someone else.
Jones also argued Iowa law does not require signature comparisons. You can even print your name. That’s a fine defense if you don’t also provide documentation of false signatures.
“Not only do I have this, not only does it align with the law, but it also aligns with the Bible where it says the husband and wife become one flesh,” Jones argued.
The objection board was made up of School Board President Sondra Nelson, Board member Tim Isenberg and secretary treasurer J.T. Anderson. The panel was unconvinced that a “technical violation” of 45.5 was enough to keep Jones off the ballot. Forget about the lousy precedent.
But Miller contends the wording of 39A is crystal clear.
“One person can’t sign for another person when it comes to nominating petitions for candidates,” said Miller, who was once sued by Republicans dubbing him a “rogue auditor” and demanding he comply with new restrictions on absentee ballot requests. It’s all about election “integrity,” after all.
Jones’ objection to mask mandates motivated her to run for school board. Jones insists, during a 41-minute video on her Facebook page, that masking caused health problems for her son, which doctors chalked up to allergies.
Fellow candidate Matt Rollinger, who is also an outspoken mask opponent, lent his support to Jones on Facebook. “Although Geralyn is running against me in this election, I must give credit where it is due. She worked her tail off to bring forth the truth,” he said.
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