116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — After being scolded for missing a county supervisor race on some ballots and initially reporting inaccurate absentee results in the November election, the Linn County Auditor’s Office will face mandatory training --- but no fines.
The Iowa Secretary of State’s Office last week issued a technical infraction against the auditor after having alerted it to the problems last fall. In a letter to Linn County Auditor Joel Miller, Deputy Secretary of State Michael Ross said that to “prevent these types of errors in the future,” Miller and his elections staff will have to attend a mandatory training on ballot preparation with the Secretary of State’s office. However, there will be no fines or other penalties, according to the letter.
During the November election, about 536 ballots in the Putnam Township precinct polling place were missing the Linn County District 1 supervisor’s race between Kirsten Running-Marquardt and Mark Banowetz. The error was discovered by Banowetz himself when he went to vote on Election Day.
“Numerous Linn County voters have contacted our office to share their concerns about this error and how it impacted them as a voter,” the letter reads. “They shared with our staff their feelings about disenfranchisement and concerns regarding your office’s ability to successfully administer future elections.”
The county also experienced delays in accurately reporting the absentee ballot results, which the auditor’s office attributed to a “faulty network switch” on a computer that needed replacing. The Secretary of State’s office discovered on election night that Linn County overreported the absentee ballots counted.
“We promptly alerted your office of the alleged discrepancy and (Deputy Auditor) Mr. (Matt) Warfield was able to determine that several packets were loaded more than once on election night to your county’s election management computer,” the letter reads.
In response to the inquiry, Miller said he would work to prevent future issues by ordering a new network switch and would create an election results upload checklist. However, Ross said a checklist already exists.
“We encourage you to continue working with your vendor to determine the precise root cause of the upload issue and replace parts as necessary to prevent future issues,” the letter continues. “Regarding the election night upload checklist, our office already provides such a checklist to auditors. When the checklist was filled out, your staff marked that all race totals were correct and certified that they reviewed the election night reporting site for accuracy.”
Miller, a Democrat, unsuccessfully ran to unseat Secretary of State Paul Pate, a Republican, last fall. Miller announced earlier this month that he would not be seeking re-election for auditor in 2024.
When asked by The Gazette for comment on the technical infraction, he said the position would be opening up next year.
“Help wanted. Candidates for Linn County Auditor. Think about it. Apply in January 2024. Five to 10 month hiring process. Knowledge of Iowa election laws recommended, but not required. Must be 18 years of age and qualified to register to vote,” Miller said.
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