Libertarian candidate challenges Kim Reynolds, David Young nominations

The Libertarian candidate in Iowa's third Congressional district has challenged the nomination petitions submitted by Governor Kim Reynolds and Representative David Young for the June 5 Republican primary. Bryan Jack Holder charges that Reynolds and Young collected many signatures on petitions that were not "substantially" in "the form prescribed by the state commissioner of elections." He further claims the governor and U.S. House incumbent violated voters' privacy rights by collecting personal information that was not redacted from petitions turned in to the Iowa Secretary of State's office.

Although Holder is extremely unlikely to knock either Republican off the primary ballot, his objections may produce more clarity on how much Iowa candidates for state or federal offices can modify their nominating petitions.

THE OBJECTIONS TO THE NOMINATING PETITIONS

Scroll to the end of this post to read the full text of each objection Holder filed with the Secretary of State's office on March 22. His points fall into three categories:

Too much deviation from official forms

Iowa Code Section 43.14 states," All nomination petitions shall be eight and one-half by eleven inches in size and in substantially the form prescribed by the state commissioner of elections." The secretary of state's website provides this example of a nominating petition for a primary election.

Some of the Reynolds and Young signature pages matched that format, but many others were horizontally aligned, which in Holder's view was no longer "substantially in the form prescribed by the state commissioner of elections." Holder provided these examples, among others.

Holder also claimed that many of the Reynolds and Young petitions were invalid because the forms they used did not include the date the Secretary of State's office last altered the standard form (see "Revised 4/17" in the lower right corner of the sample page).

In addition, he noted that the Reynolds campaign logo appears on many of the governor's nominating petitions.

Iowa Code Section 43.14 does not permit the printing of campaign logos or other political advertisements on nomination petitions. The Prescribed Nomination Petition Form is a neutral document printed in black & white.

Collecting and not redacting personal information

Holder noted that the secretary of state's Candidate’s Guide to this year's primary election

explains on page 8 that “All signers must include the following information: A signature (the signature may be printed), the address of their residence”. State law does not allow the modification of the Prescribed Nomination Petition Form to include any other personal information from signatures including email addresses.

Yet as shown above, the Reynolds campaign collected e-mail addresses on many of its petitions, while the Young campaign collected both e-mail contacts and cell phone numbers.

A related point on Holder's objections charged that since Young and Reynolds "obtained highly personal information" from voters "for the purpose of data mining," they should have redacted all such information before filing the nominating papers. Candidates' petitions are a public record, and "Failure to protect the privacy of signatories’ cell phone numbers and email addresses should be a major cause for concern in this age of identity theft, phishing scams, and other cybercrimes."

Failing to state the correct office sought

Young's affidavit of candidacy accurately stated that he is running for the U.S. House of Representatives in the third district. But some of his petition pages listed the office sought as "United States Congress." In Holder's view,

The term “United States Congress” is used to describe BOTH chambers of the national legislature assembled- the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives. A candidate must declare which chamber they are seeking a seat in and Candidate Young failed to do this. The Iowa Secretary of State’s website lists the partisan offices on the June 5, 2018 primary election ballot and “United States Congress” is not one of them.

SLIM CHANCES FOR SUCCESS

Holder should have an opportunity to present his objections before a three-person election panel soon. Iowa law allows "any person who would have the right to vote for the candidate for the office in question" to object to a candidate's nominating papers within a certain time frame, in this case before March 23. The same code provision stipulates, "Objections filed with the state commissioner shall be considered by the secretary of state, auditor of state, and attorney general."

However, no one should expect the panel to disqualify Reynolds or Young. Six years ago, State Senator Joe Seng was able to stay on the Democratic primary ballot in Iowa's second Congressional district despite more serious problems with his petitions. As Bleeding Heartland explained at the time,

When Seng submitted his nominating petitions, the Secretary of State’s Office rejected the Davis and Van Buren pages “because the top portion – listing Seng’s name, where he was from and what office he was seeking – hadn’t been completely filled out.” [Secretary of State Matt] Schultz told reporters later that while “Senator Seng probably should have been more organized, […] in his case it was a close call.” [Attorney General Tom] Miller pointed to precedent for such panels giving Iowa candidates the benefit of the doubt: “That model has the value of respecting the democratic process and being somewhat favorable, deferential to someone having access to the ballot.”

Leaving the modification date off the petition form, or printing it in horizontal rather than vertical alignment, does not rise to the level of an infraction that should outweigh a candidate being able to run for office. Reynolds and Young were able to find more than enough Iowans willing to sign their nominating papers.

Similarly, even if candidates are not supposed to put logos or advertisements on their petitions, I'd be shocked if Miller, Secretary of State Paul Pate, and State Auditor Mary Mosiman saw that violation as more important than giving access to the ballot to a candidate who met all other requirements. A clear statement from the panel on that point would provide helpful guidance to future candidates, though.

My reading of Iowa Code 43.14 does not find any language prohibiting candidates from collecting more data than is necessary on nominating petitions. (An employee of the Secretary of State's office told Holder on March 22, "This is a minimum, not a maximum.") The candidate's guide says nothing about redacting personal information such as cell phone numbers and e-mail addresses before submitting nominating papers. No doubt it is poor form for campaigns to expose thousands of voters to possible identity theft or phishing scams. Nevertheless, including private information on petitions that will become public records does not appear to violate Iowa law.

I welcome feedback from attorneys on any related legal questions and will update this post as needed.

UPDATE: The panel ruled against Holder's challenges on March 27. Attorney General Miller suggested that campaigns should "white out" cell phone numbers and e-mail addresses.

Holder's objection to the Reynolds nominating papers, as posted on Facebook:

March 22, 2018

TO:
Iowa Secretary of State's Office
First Floor, Lucas Building
321 East 12th Street
Des Moines, Iowa 50319

FROM:
Dr. Bryan Jack Holder
18338 Heron Lane East
Council Bluffs, Iowa 51503
bjh12572@gmail.com
(402) 689-1817
Re: Objection to Nomination Petitions
of Candidate Kim Reynolds
for the June 5th, 2018
Republican Primary for Iowa Governor

Dear Secretary of State Pate, Auditor Mosiman, and Attorney General Miller:

Pursuant to Iowa Code Section 43.24, I am filing this Objection to the the Nomination Petition of Candidate Kim Reynolds for the June 5th, 2018 Republican Primary for Iowa Governor. As required by law to file an Objection, I am a person who has the “right to vote for the candidate for the office in question.”.

Iowa Code Section 43.14 specifies the “Form of nomination papers” and is as follows-

43.14 Form of nomination papers.
1. Nomination papers shall included a petition and an affidavit of candidacy.
All nomination petitions shall be eight and one-half by eleven inches in size
and in substantially the form prescribed by the state commissioner of elections.

Objection No. 1- Candidate Kim Reynolds Modified the Prescribed Nomination Petition Form

The Iowa Secretary of State's office prescribed the most recent Nomination Petition Form for Primary Elections in April 2017. A blank copy is attached which is also available to all candidates & the public on the Secretary of State's website. This is the only form a candidate for public office is permitted to use to collect signatures of eligible electors to appear on the primary ballot. The Prescribed Nomination Petition Form is oriented eight and one-half inches horizontally and eleven inches vertically. Candidate Kim Reynolds did NOT use this Prescribed Nomination Petition Form when collecting signatures, instead using a modified form oriented horizontally resulting in a document that is NOT “substantially in the form prescribed by the state commissioner of elections.'

Changing the orientation of the document from vertical to horizontal is a clear violation of Iowa Code Section 43.14. It appears this modification was made by Candidate Kim Reynolds to data mine signatories by obtaining their email addresses. Changing the form to horizontal orientation made possible the addition of an extra column for signatories' email addresses. A copy of her modified nomination petition form is attached.

The Iowa Secretary of State's Candidate's Guide to the Primary Election June 5, 2018 which was last revised February 2018 explains on page 8 that “All signers must include the following information: A signature (the signature may be printed), the address of their residence”. State law does not allow the modification of the Prescribed Nomination Petition Form to include any other personal information from signatures including email addresses.

For comparison, the “State of Iowa Official Voter Registration Form” (revised 2/3/2017) does not require an email address from signatories and the provision of such personal information is clearly defined as optional. I have attached a copy of the “State of Iowa Official Voter Registration Form” with the “Additional Information” section enlarged and highlighted to show the “Phone and/or Email (optional)” section. Candidate Kim Reynolds did NOT allow signatories to “opt-out” of providing email addresses, violating both the notice requirement of due process and the right to privacy.

Objection No. 2- Candidate Kim Reynolds Advertised Her Campaign on Her Nomination Petition

When Candidate Kim Reynolds modified the Prescribed Nomination Petition Form she printed her campaign logo on her new form. Iowa Code Section 43.14 does not permit the printing of campaign logos or other political advertisements on nomination petitions. The Prescribed Nomination Petition Form is a neutral document printed in black & white. Candidate Kim Reynolds used her campaign logo which reads “Kim Reynolds Governor” in red and blue ink at the top of the modified petition form. This was likely done in an effort to impress and convince electors to sign her modified petition form. Candidates are free to distribute campaign literature when petitioning but campaign logos are not to be printed on the Prescribed Nomination Petition Form.

Objection No. 3- Candidate Kim Reynolds' Modified Nomination Petition Lacks a Revision Date

When Candidate Kim Reynolds modified the Prescribed Nomination Petition Form she failed to affix the date that the Secretary of State's office revised the form. The current official Prescribed Nomination Petition Form contains a revision date at the bottom right hand corner of the document which reads “Revised 4/17” in italics. Candidate Kim Reynold's modified petition form lacks this requirement.

Objection No. 4- Candidate Kim Reynolds Violated Signatories' Privacy by Not Redacting the Email Addresses Before Filing Petitions

Since Candidate Kim Reynolds obtained highly personal information (email addresses) from signatories for the purpose of data mining, she had a duty to redact these email addresses from her modified nomination petitions before filing when they became a public record. Failure to protect the privacy of signatories' email addresses should be a major cause for concern in this age of identity theft, phishing scams, and other cybercrimes.

For the reasons listed above I humbly request that Candidate Kim Reynold's nomination petition be rejected and her name not placed on the Republican Party of Iowa's June 5, 2018 primary ballot.

Respectfully submitted,

_____________________
Dr. Bryan Jack Holder

Holder's objection, as posted on Facebook:

March 22, 2018

TO:
Iowa Secretary of State's Office
First Floor, Lucas Building
321 East 12th Street
Des Moines, Iowa 50319

FROM:
Dr. Bryan Jack Holder
18338 Heron Lane East
Council Bluffs, Iowa 51503
bjh12572@gmail.com
(402) 689-1817

Re: Objection to Nomination Petitions
of Candidate David Young
for the June 5th, 2018
Republican Primary for Iowa's 3rd Congressional District

Dear Secretary of State Pate, Auditor Mosiman, and Attorney General Miller:

Pursuant to Iowa Code Section 43.24, I am filing this Objection to the the Nomination Petition of Candidate David Young for the June 5th, 2018 Republican Primary for Iowa's 3rd Congressional District. As required by law to file an Objection, I am a person who has the “right to vote for the candidate for the office in question.”.

Iowa Code Section 43.14 specifies the “Form of nomination papers” and is as follows-

43.14 Form of nomination papers.
1. Nomination papers shall included a petition and an affidavit of candidacy.
All nomination petitions shall be eight and one-half by eleven inches in size
and in substantially the form prescribed by the state commissioner of elections.

Objection No. 1- Candidate David Young Modified the Prescribed Nomination Petition Form

The Iowa Secretary of State's office prescribed the most recent Nomination Petition Form for Primary Elections in April 2017. A blank copy is attached which is also available to all candidates & the public on the Secretary of State's website. This is the only form a candidate for public office is permitted to use to collect signatures of eligible electors to appear on the primary ballot. The Prescribed Nomination Petition Form is oriented eight and one-half inches horizontally and eleven inches vertically. Candidate David Young did NOT use this Prescribed Nomination Petition Form when collecting signatures, instead using a modified form oriented horizontally resulting in a document that is NOT “substantially in the form prescribed by the state commissioner of elections.'

Changing the orientation of the document from vertical to horizontal is a clear violation of Iowa Code Section 43.14. It appears this modification was made by Candidate David Young to data mine signatories by obtaining their cell phone numbers and email addresses. Changing the form to horizontal orientation made possible the addition of an extra column for signatories' cell phone numbers and email addresses. A copy of his modified nomination petition form is attached.
The Iowa Secretary of State's Candidate's Guide to the Primary Election June 5, 2018 which was last revised February 2018 explains on page 8 that “All signers must include the following information: A signature (the signature may be printed), the address of their residence”. State law does not allow the modification of the Prescribed Nomination Petition Form to include any other personal information from signatures including cell phone numbers and email addresses.

For comparison, the “State of Iowa Official Voter Registration Form” (revised 2/3/2017) does not require an email address from signatories and the provision of such personal information is clearly defined as optional. I have attached a copy of the “State of Iowa Official Voter Registration Form” with the “Additional Information” section enlarged and highlighted to show the “Phone and/or Email (optional)” section. Candidate David Young did NOT allow signatories to “opt-out” of providing email addresses and cell phone numbers, violating both the notice requirement of due process and the right to privacy.

Objection No. 2- Candidate David Young's Modified Nomination Petition Lacks the Official “Prescribed by the Iowa Secretary of State” Statement and Lacks a Revision Date

When Candidate David Young modified the Prescribed Nomination Petition Form he failed to affix the official “Prescribed by the Iowa Secretary of State” pronouncement and the date that the Secretary of State's office revised the form. The current official Prescribed Nomination Petition Form contains the pronouncement “Prescribed by the Iowa Secretary of State” at the bottom of the document in the middle of the page and a revision date at the bottom right hand corner of the document which reads “Revised 4/17” in italics. Candidate David Young's modified petition form lacks this requirement.

Objection No. 3- Candidate David Young Failed to Properly Declare an Office Sought Recognized by State Law

According to State law and the Iowa Secretary of State's website there is no such office one can seek called “United States Congress”. The term “United States Congress” is used to describe BOTH chambers of the national legislature assembled- the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives. A candidate must declare which chamber they are seeking a seat in and Candidate Young failed to do this. The Iowa Secretary of State's website lists the partisan offices on the June 5, 2018 primary election ballot and “United States Congress” is not one of them.

Objection No. 4- Candidate David Young Violated Signatories' Privacy by Not Redacting the Cell Phone Numbers and Email Addresses Before Filing Petitions

Since Candidate David Young obtained highly personal information (cell phone numbers and email addresses) from signatories for the purpose of data mining, he had a duty to redact these cell phone numbers and email addresses from his modified nomination petitions before filing when they became a public record. Failure to protect the privacy of signatories' cell phone numbers and email addresses should be a major cause for concern in this age of identity theft, phishing scams, and other cybercrimes.

For the reasons listed above I humbly request that Candidate David Young's nomination petition be rejected and his name not placed on the Republican Party of Iowa's June 5, 2018 primary ballot.

Respectfully submitted,

_____________________
Dr. Bryan Jack Holder

Top image: Screen shot from Bryan Jack Holder's March 22 video of his filing objection letters to nominating petitions for Governor Kim Reynolds and U.S. Representative David Young.

  • 2018...

    ...the year when Iowa really needs to settle signature issues and questions so we know how to do a lot better in 2020.

  • I tend to agree with his objections

    The purpose of petitions is to prove real citizens support your candidacy (or at least your right to be on the ballot), not to harvest data for your campaign. There's no disclosure that the email address or cell phone numbers are optional, and you know that they will be used to push out campaign-related information, though the signers may not have realized this when giving the information. I think that was deceitful. I agree that it probably won't get the petitions tossed, but it probably should until this issue is openly debated. I've also been critical of political signs urging people to text to a certain number without full political disclosure, or candidates even saying it in a speech without giving people a website where they can obtain a full disclosure. The FEC has finally issued some proposed rules governing web ads that will require disclosure -- they're very late on this issue. The Cambridge Analytica mess illustrates why it is even more important. Data brokers will eat this up.

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