Testimony by Linn County Auditor Joel D. Miller to the House State Government Committee on 6 March 2017 at the Capitol in Des Moines, Iowa
Chairman Rizer and Honorable Committee:
I am Joel Miller, County Auditor and Commissioner of Elections for Linn County. I have been a county auditor for just over 10 years. I have overseen 54 elections in which about one million ballots have been cast.
I am against HF516 for a number of reasons, but my primary reason is that it does not go far enough to ensure that Iowa does not have a “patchwork” of some counties using ePollbook technology and some not.
Patchwork seems to be the operative word legislators have used for wanting to dismantle the minimum wage ordinances passed in several counties. Why would the Legislature allow a patchwork of voting technology to be used in Iowa’s elections?
Currently, Linn County is one of the 20 plus counties not using ePollbooks. Under HF516, a revolving loan fund would be available to Linn County.
In my February 22nd email to you Rep Rizer, I copied Reps Zumbach and Taylor, and indicated the cost for Linn County to buy ePollbooks for our 86 precincts is over $278K. I informed you that Linn County just spent over $834K for new ballot scanners and ADA devices. Linn County set aside funds over a four year period in order to buy that election equipment.
In that same February 22nd email, I wrote that “ePollbooks in every precinct in the State is the direction we should be headed – I have no doubt about that”.
Rep Rizer, you named HF516 the “Election Modernization and Integrity Act” How are you modernizing elections: If some counties have ePollbooks and some don’t? How are you modernizing elections: If there is no deadline for every county in the State to have ePollbooks? How are you modernizing elections: If no one can agree upon what an ePollbook is, e.g., the Secretary of State has one version and the County Auditors’ Association has another?
And what good does it do to modernize the precincts with ePollbooks when the Secretary of State has compared the Statewide Voter Registration system to a computer operating on Windows 95?
Yes, Honorable Committee, we need to modernize the equipment we use at our precincts for elections. We need ePollbooks in every precinct connected to the Statewide Voter Registration system in real-time. And that Honorable Committee is going to take more than a revolving loan fund.
The taxpayers of Linn County spent almost $835K to administer elections in calendar year 2016. That’s more than this bill proposes to loan to the entire State to modernize our elections.
Honorable Committee, I urge you to vote down HF516 until you find a way to fund the modernization you are indicating that Linn County and other counties need to increase the integrity of our elections. The last thing this State needs is a patchwork of ePollbooks scattered about the State.
In response to some previous speakers who impugned the reputation of elections in Linn County, I say,“Yes, voters live in motels and hotels- I know, I verified they lived there. Yes, voters arrive in busses from independent living facilities – I know, I’ve seen them arrive”. (cutoff by the Chair)