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Iowa auditor investigating overpayment of Scott County election workers during 2020 primaries

Iowa officials have launched an investigation into possible financial misconduct by the Scott County auditor during a primary election held during the pandemic, State Auditor Rob Sand announced Thursday.

At issue is then-Scott County Auditor Roxanna Moritz allegedly falsifying payroll records to boost poll worker pay to $15 per hour without approval of the county board of supervisors, said supervisor Tony Knobbe.

Depending on the position, the poll workers were supposed to be paid $10 or $12 per hour. Moritz, a Democrat, decided to boost their pay but did not seek approval of the Republican-controlled board of supervisors, which, by Iowa law, sets election workers' rate of compensation. 

In an interview with the Des Moines Register, Moritz said providing the pay increase without board approval was "a rash decision" that was made because of how difficult it was to hire poll workers during the pandemic.

"We were having difficulty getting people to say, 'Yes, I’ll be a poll worker,' because we were two months into COVID," she said.

Knobbe claims Moritz approved inflated timesheets to make up the difference in hourly pay during the June 2020 primary election. 

Iowa law allows for poll workers to be paid only after the votes in that election have been canvassed. Moritz said that means workers are paid for training, setup and tear down and Election Day work all on the same paycheck. Because of the county's accounting system, she said that made it appear the employees did their work on the same day.

She said outside auditors as well as the Scott County attorney have already looked at the situation. The result was a recommendation that she seek approval from the board of supervisors before offering pay increases in the future, she said.

The Scott County auditor's office provided a report from the Milwaukee-based firm Baker Tilly that confirmed Moritz's account.

"When adjustments to pay rates are necessary, they should be taken to the board for approval," the firm recommended in its report.

Moritz then received approval from the board of supervisors in a Sept. 25 resolution to pay poll workers $15 an hour for the November general election.

Sand's office will attempt to determine if the payments amounted to a misuse of federal election funds administered by the Iowa Secretary of State, according to a statement. The federal funds must be spent in accordance with state and federal law.

Moritz said she didn't use federal funds, either from the coronavirus relief package known as the CARES Act or the Help America Vote Act, to pay poll workers in the primary election.

"We used it for PPE (personal protective equipment). But we didn't use any HAVA funds at all for the poll workers in the primary," she said.

Staff at the Scott County auditor's office provided documentation Friday confirming her account. The office used its $67,900 in federal funds primarily for supplies like laptops, mobile IT equipment, cleaning supplies and masks, as well as postage for absentee ballots, the document shows.

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Sand, a Democrat like Moritz, said in a statement that his team is working closely with the office of Secretary of State Paul Pate, a Republican, on the investigation. Pate's spokesperson, Kevin Hall, declined to comment since the investigation is ongoing.

The case is complicated by the fact that Moritz's office took money from a controversial private grant meant to support running local elections during the pandemic.

Notably, Moritz accepted close to $300,000 from the left-leaning Center for Tech and Civil Rights to help administer the November election.

Moritz accepted the money, which originated with a donation from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, also without the approval of the board of supervisors. Moritz said she did not need board approval to accept the funds.

That money was the subject of an unsuccessful legal challenge by a conservative group.

More:New Iowa law eliminates statute of limitations for sex crimes committed against children

If Sand's auditors identify a violation, they will present their findings to federal authorities and state and county prosecutors, said auditor spokesperson Sonya Heitshusen.

The auditor ordered the investigation after news stories, published last year, were brought to his attention, Heitshusen said.

Sand is empowered to investigate the use of money paid out by state departments such as the federal HAVA money Pate's office provides to counties.

Moritz was elected Scott County auditor in 2008 and served until she stepped down on April 23. She is a past president of the Iowa State Association of County Auditors and a critic of several Republican-passed election laws in recent years.

At the time, she cited clashes with the board of supervisors and provisions of a 2021 state election law written by Sen. Roby Smith, R-Davenport, and later signed by Gov. Kim Reynolds that cuts the state's early voting period and closes the polls an hour earlier on Election Day.

The board voted Thursday night to appoint a replacement to fill the auditor position until the next General Election rather than hold a special election later this year.

Daniel Lathrop is a staff writer on the Register's investigative team. Reach him at (319) 244-8873 or [email protected] Follow him at @lathropd on Twitter and facebook.com/lathropod.

Stephen Gruber-Miller covers the Iowa Statehouse and politics for the Register. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at 515-284-8169. Follow him on Twitter at @sgrubermiller.

Sours: https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/2021/05/13/officials-investigate-possible-unapproved-overpayment-poll-workers-iowa-auditor-roxanna-moritz-sand/5074560001/

State auditor to investigate alleged overpayments to Scott County election workers

State Auditor Rob Sand confirmed Thursday that the Iowa State Auditor’s Office will undertake an investigation of the Scott County Auditor.

The auditor’s office will examine “potential overpayments” to election workers, approved by Scott County Auditor Roxanna Moritz (now retired), a news release says.

“The potential overpayments have been publicly reported and may be a misuse of Help America Vote Act (HAVA) funds made available through the Iowa Secretary of State Office,” the release says.

The Iowa Secretary of State Office is assisting with the investigation.

The State Auditor’s Office will issue a report with its findings when the audit is completed.

Moritz announces retirement

Related Local 4 News stories

Scott County Auditor and Commissioner of Elections Roxanna Moritz announced March 10 that she would leave office on April 23.

Here is the full statement she released:

“After a difficult year in 2020 with both the Primary and the General Election, I have decided it is time for me to retire. Not only did we face the constant barrage of lies and innuendos in regards to the security and integrity of elections, but name calling and physical threats. It was not just me, but my staff faced this abuse as well.”

“For many years Iowa has been ranked in the top 10 when it comes to elections, and there is a reason for that. Iowa County Auditors have consistently run fair, honest and accurate elections. In 2020 we had to include safe elections too. COVID-19 gave all us a new concept of what physical safety meant at the workplace as well as the polling locations. My staff, our poll workers and I worked diligently to conduct safe elections.”

“We were challenged with putting on elections under a new dynamic with very little support from the Scott County Board of Supervisors. For several years I have advocated before the Board for improvements. We do not have adequate training facilities for staff and poll workers. I have to divide my staff who have to work at two separate locations, and this fact makes it difficult to utilize staff as situations change.”

“I feel there has been a philosophical difference with the Board. I believe it is important for people to vote, whether it be at a poll location or by absentee ballot.”

“The next auditor will have to deal with the same limitations. My one regret is not getting the Board to better support elections. The extensive election changes just enacted by the Iowa legislature will only make these limitations worse.”

“I cannot thank the citizens of Scott County enough for the many years of support through my journey in life as a Davenport City Council member, a Scott County Supervisor and then the last 14 years as Scott County Auditor and Commissioner of Elections.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Sours: https://www.ourquadcities.com/news/local-news/state-auditor-to-investigate-alleged-overpayments-to-scott-county-election-workers/
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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - The first election in Scott County since Iowa election laws changed in approaching.

Scott County Auditor Kerri Tompkins sent out a reminder to voters about the election changes.

“Polls will be opening at 7 a.m. and they will close at 8 p.m.. That goes for all elections so eight o’clock is the time that’s the cutoff date so please make sure if you’re interested in voting that you’re there before eight o’clock,” Tompkins said.

When returning an absentee ballot, it must be received by the county auditor by 8 p.m. on election day. That’s why voters should be mindful of the timing of their mail.

“As soon as you get your absentee ballot please fill it out, turn around and get back to us, because yes we need to have it by the end of the day on election day,” Tompkins said.

Tompkins said they’ll release deadline information as each election approaches.

“Please get out and vote, you know, we’re working hard to make sure that this is a seamless process but we certainly want to make sure that the people have the opportunity to vote,” she said.

Original: Scott County Auditor Kerri Tompkins is reminding voters of several changes to Iowa election laws that affect voter registration and absentee balloting.

These changes are in effect for the Davenport Seventh Ward Primary Election on Oct. 5 and all subsequent elections.

“Many changes were made to Iowa election laws and my office wants to draw special attention for those which will affect voters most directly,” Tompkins said in a media release. “A complete list of changes affecting voters and all other changes is available on the Auditor’s webpage of the Scott County website.”

Polling place hours

Polls are open for all elections from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Previously, the polls were open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. for general elections and 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. for city/school elections.

Deadline to pre-register to vote

The deadline to pre-register to vote is 5 p.m. Sept. 20. Pre-registering to vote means that your name and address will appear in the voter records on Election Day. Having your name and correct address appears in the voter records will speed up processing time at the polls. If you have moved recently and not updated your voter registration, please consider doing so. The auditor’s office said It is easy to update your record online at the Iowa Department of Transportation or forms are available on the auditor’s website.

To register using this form:

  • Print the above registration form
  • Complete, sign and date
  • Place in an envelope and mail to the following address: Scott County Auditor, Attn: Voter Registration Form; 600 W. 4th St., Davenport, Iowa 52801

In-person early voting

In-person early voting at the auditor’s office begins on Wednesday. In-person voting will be available from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. at the auditor’s office, and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Oct. 4.

Absentee ballot request deadline

The deadline to request an absentee ballot by mail is at 5 p.m. Sept. 20. Request forms are available for download on the auditor’s webpage, or the auditor’s office will mail forms to voters upon request. Another important change is that voters must date the request forms for acceptance.

Get the request form here.

The auditor’s office said to complete the fillable absentee ballot request form, print it, sign and date it and mail it to:

  • Scott County Auditor, Attn: Absentee Request Form; 600 W. 4th St. Davenport, Iowa 52801

Absentee ballot return deadline

The deadline for the auditor’s office to receive absentee ballots is at 8 a.m. Oct. 5. Previously, ballots were valid if postmarked before Election Day and received by the day before the election canvass.

Ballots may be returned by mail, or hand-delivered to the auditor’s office either by the voter, a member of the voter’s household, an immediate family member of the voter, or a delivery agent if the voter is blind or otherwise handicapped.

Special rules apply for the return of ballots by a delivery agent, and these rules are available on the auditor’s website.

Visit the auditor’s website to learn more about the 2021 election law changes, as well as the return of absentee ballots.

Copyright 2021 KWQC. All rights reserved.

Sours: https://www.kwqc.com/2021/09/10/scott-county-auditor-reminds-voters-changes-iowa-election-laws/
Credit Island, Davenport, Scott County, Iowa. DJI 0262

DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - The Scott County Auditor held the first of three community presentations Wednesday at the Scott County Administrative Center. Auditor Kerri Tompkins reviewed the new Iowa voting rules in the presentation.

After the event, both Tompkins and election supervisor James Martin were available for questions from the public. Some of the changes include absentee voting, time of closing for polls, and delivery agents.

“The changes are because of our legislators. That is something they worked on and they felt that there needed to be some changes, make it a little more secure,” said the county auditor. “So that’s just one of those things that we’re working with it, and making sure that we’re abiding by all those changes.”

Tompkins will hold two more presentations. One will be held in Buffalo on Monday and the other in Eldridge on Wednesday, both from 5:30 - 6:30 pm.

For more information about the rule changes, click here.

Copyright 2021 KWQC. All rights reserved.

Sours: https://www.kwqc.com/2021/10/07/scott-county-auditor-hosts-three-community-presentations-new-voting-rules/

County auditor davenport iowa scott

"A historical political resource." 

  Moritz, Roxanna

AffiliationDemocratic 
<- 2007-01-01 
 
NameRoxanna Moritz
Address220 N Elmwood
Davenport, Iowa 52802, United States
EmailNone
WebsiteNone
BornUnknown
Contributorev
Last Modifedev
Jan 18, 2018 10:05pm
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Sours: https://www.ourcampaigns.com/CandidateDetail.html?CandidateID=141545
(1st amendment audit) Scott County Courthouse, 400 W 4th St, Davenport, IA 52801

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But the Countess said that if we didn't want to, then no one would force me to. However, so far Zak, walking between the groups of people, did not notice anything special. Well, they are standing, well, talking. As before, except perhaps in masks and strange clothes. Anyway.



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