Democrat Joel Miller running for secretary of state

Linn County Auditor Joel Miller confirmed on September 16 that he will seek the Democratic nomination for secretary of state, pledging to take the fight to Republican incumbent Paul Pate in order to “bring back trust and fairness in Iowa’s elections.”

Miller has served as auditor of Iowa’s second-largest county since 2007 and was most recently re-elected in 2020. He’s been exploring a bid for statewide office since late last year; he and Pate have clashed over numerous election administration issues, from absentee ballot drop boxes to absentee ballot request forms to voter list maintenance.

The auditor’s campaign announcement highlighted one of those battles, noting that Miller “made national headlines during the 2020 election when he was sued by President Donald Trump’s campaign for expanding voter participation and health and safety measures in the wake of the deadly Covid-19 pandemic.”

That lawsuit stemmed from the decision by three county auditors to defy a directive from Pate and fill in voters’ information on absentee ballot request forms mailed to all registered voters in their jurisdiction. A District Court judge invalidated the pre-filled forms, and the Iowa Supreme Court later agreed. Asked how he would respond to Republican critics who say the courts sided with them in the dispute, Miller told Bleeding Heartland via email, “I did the right thing. I would do it again. And if I’m elected, no county auditor will ever be in this position again because as Secretary of State, I will work to make voting easy again.”

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Democrat Eric Van Lancker running for secretary of state

Iowa Democrats have their first confirmed candidate for secretary of state in 2022. Clinton County Auditor Eric Van Lancker announced on September 15 that he will seek the office, saying in a news release that he has a “passion for helping my neighbors vote, backed up by experience and an understanding of how to run elections the right way.”

Alluding to Republican incumbent Paul Pate, Van Lancker said in the statement,

“Iowans have never needed a voting advocate more than they do at this moment […]”

“Voters pay for the election system and they deserve to have leadership that builds confidence in the system instead of undermining it for short-term political points,” Van Lancker said. “It is long past time for a County Auditor to return to the Secretary of State’s office. Iowa voters deserve a state commissioner of elections who knows what it is like to be on the front lines of an election and has respect and knowledge of the work precinct election officials perform during an election.”

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Advocates ask Iowa SOS to allow Spanish-language voting materials

The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) has petitioned the Iowa Secretary of State’s office to allow elections officials in all 99 counties to accept official Spanish-language translations of voter registration and absentee ballot request forms.

The Secretary of State’s office has not yet replied to the petition and did not respond to Bleeding Heartland’s inquiries about the matter. If it doesn’t issue the requested order within 60 days of the filing date (July 28), Iowa’s largest Latino advocacy group can go to court seeking an exception for voting materials from Iowa’s 2002 “English language reaffirmation” statute, more commonly known as the English-only law.

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Iowa SOS alters graphics, downplaying voter roll changes

The Iowa Secretary of State’s office altered how it publicizes monthly voter registration numbers after moving 294,000 Iowa voters to “inactive” status this spring.

For years, shareable graphics posted every month featured the number and partisan breakdown of active registrants in each Iowa Congressional district. Since May, Secretary of State Paul Pate has posted images with totals that include inactive voters.

The new approach obscures the fact that active registrants dropped by about 13 percent during the latest round of voter roll maintenance in April.

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Secretary of State's office wrongly inactivated many Iowa voters

The Iowa Secretary of State’s office moved thousands of Iowans who did not vote in the 2020 general election to “inactive” status this month. But according to Linn County Auditor Joel Miller, a recent “No Activity” mailing from the state went to at least three groups of voters who should not have received it. Consequently, state officials “incorrectly inactivated” hundreds of voters in Linn County alone.

Staff in the Secretary of State’s office did not reply to Bleeding Heartland’s inquiries on April 23, nor did they respond to a “Notice of Technical Infraction and Letter of Instruction Miller sent to Secretary of State Paul Pate the previous day.

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Grassley misleads on Republican "voting reform laws"

Herb Strentz: Senator Chuck Grassley does not acknowledge that if Americans are losing faith in democracy, it is partly because he and others avoid saying Joe Biden won the election. -promoted by Laura Belin

Seems like old times.

The April 10 issue of U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley’s newsletter, THE SCOOP, calls to mind his old deceptions about government-run health plans that would “pull the plug on grandma,” and about the limited estate tax, which Grassley wrongly says has driven Iowa farm families into poverty or liquidation

Fear-mongering about “death panels” arose in 2009 in opposition to the health care reform bill (the Affordable Care Act). The “death tax” rhetoric continues to be a favorite for Grassley and Senator Joni Ernst, even though Neil Hamilton, former director of the Drake University Agricultural Law Center, has described such claims as “hogwash.”

In THE SCOOP, Grassley now misleads readers about what the state of Georgia’s recently enacted “voting reform” would do, and why Republican state legislatures around the nation are considering or have already adopted new restrictions on voting

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