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3:41 p.m. – Tom Miller thanked the candidates and the objectors. He said it was a good discussion. Regarding Sand’s concern about people filing complaints and objections and not being in the district, he won’t uphold those kinds of challenges in the future.

3:41 p.m. – Pate thanked everyone for their patience with the phone process. He talked about there being areas that need to be worked to improve. He encouraged candidates to use the candidate’s guides and said his office would go back to work to improve the guides.

3:40 p.m. – Pate initiated the vote on the challenges to Taylor’s petitions. It was dismissed 3-0.

3:35 p.m. – Taylor said he was unaware to objections regarding the submission of Bret Richards. He said he didn’t believe that to be the case. He said he hadn’t seen it so he couldn’t do justice by responding to it. He also talked about alleged photocopies in Boone.

“Not having that in the original complaint, it’s not appropriate to raise or respond to other than we don’t believe either of those to be the case,” Taylor said.

Taylor said issues with the vacancy box was a clerical error. He said it’s common knowledge that Congressman King has not died or resigned from office.

Taylor said none of the duplicates were by way of intention, but likely someone who signed at a central committee meeting and then a caucus. He acknowledged duplicates should be stricken.

3:34 p.m. – Hanson was asked where she raised these concerns in her original complaint. She admitted it was not part of her original complaint, but part of the evidentiary review that she’s been continuing to do.

3:34 p.m. – Taylor pointed out that issues were being raised that were not in the original complaint.

3:30 p.m. – Hanson said the panel did not seem to be interested in addressing concerns with the circulator box and accuracy of information in that area.

She moved on to county-specific challenges. She noted the law specifically calls for circulators to note their phone number and address, both of which are either missing or inaccurately reflected on some of Taylor’s petitions.

She went through county-specific challenges against Taylor. She said Taylor also submitted a petition that listed the candidate as Bret Richards.

She continued to go through county-specific challenges.

3:29 p.m. – The panel voted 3-0 to dismiss the challenge to Feenstra’s candidacy.

3:27 p.m. – Gannon said striking duplicated signatures would follow precedent for the panel. However, there is no requirement that people who sign the petitions be registered to vote at the address, so the unidentifiable objections were essentially dismissed.

3:24 p.m. – Matt Gannon with the AG’s Office said the circulator issues are a first impression for the panel. He said he’d offer his thoughts. He had a question for Koopmans. He asked Koopmans about substantial compliance on the sheets that were left unsigned, he asked to explain what he meant by that. He asked if they were sheets clipped together or if they were separate sheets. Koopmans said there was only one that was not signed by the circulator, and it was page 33 for Story County. Koopmans said he did not know if it was clipped together, but the sheets before and after page 33 are signed by a circulator.

3:23 p.m. – Charlie Smithson, who was also representing Feenstra, added that the candidate is required to put his or her name as they want it to appear on the ballot. He said it has absolutely nothing to do with filings with the Federal Election Commission.

3:21 p.m. – Koopmans said Feenstra’s address being listed by circulators are all campaign workers. He said those workers probably spend more time on the road than they do at home.

He said Feenstra’s address is the best one to list the circulator at.

As for Feenstra’s use of his name, Koopmans said the panel has considered the issue several times and rejected it. The affidavit and the petitions are consistent. Under Iowa law, Koopmans said he’s under strict compliance with the requirement.

Koopmans added that voter registration for people to sign petitions is not required, they only need to be eligible to vote. He said he assumed Hanson was dropping that challenge.

3:18 p.m. – Hanson said she was disappointed in the circulator box decision. She went back to it, noting that Feenstra’s nomination petitions have a circulator who does not list their address but lists another address. She said that’s another point of challenge. She said listing any address you choose that day limits the ability to go back and determine who that person is and how to reach them. Anywhere else in the Iowa Code where it references address it references residential address.

Hanson brought up the objection to Feenstra filing as Randall Feenstra with the FEC but using Randy Feenstra on most of his petitions.

He did not include his address and forgot to sign his name as well. She said those are required — printed name, signature, address and phone number.

“The fact that while he forgot, it does make it non-compliant,” Hanson said.

3:17 p.m. – Pate moved forward with votes on King and Richards. All three members of the panel voted in favor of dismissing the challenge.

3:16 p.m. – Molly encouraged a vote on the objections to King and Richards.

3:15 p.m. – Sand said he agrees with Miller and Pate. He said if the legislature wants it to be witnessed, they know how to write that law, they know how to use the word witnessed.

3:14 p.m. – Pate said he believes his office needs to go back and do a better job of clearing the issue up for future elections. He said he is inclined to also not uphold the challenge.

3:11 p.m. – Miller thanked Hanson for the work and thinking she did. He said “this is a real issue and a serious issue.” He said he had a really good conversation with another candidate from the Fourth District, Steve Reeder, and Steve indicated that he read the statute and the rules like Dr. Hanson did and he and his wife went out and personally got the signatures and secured the signatures in their presence and followed the statute. He made the arguments that Hanson made, noting it is intended to reform the system and make fraud more difficult.

“I think there’s some really good arguments on that side,” Miller said.

But Miller said he is particularly swayed by the arguments made by Koopmans. He noted it would be a dramatic change. Miller said there are really good arguments on both sides, but he comes down in favor of not allowing the challenge.

3:11 p.m. – There is no precedent for this issue because it is a new law.

3:10 p.m. – Koopmans said guidance doesn’t have the force of law.

3:08 p.m. – Hanson finished by directing people to page 6 of the candidate’s guide to the primary election. She referenced the same section that Jeff King referenced and said the circulator is the candidate or person collecting signatures on behalf of a campaign. She said it is not an imaginary definition, it is guidance provided to specifically address the issue. She said Taylor and Richards both indicated they understood that definition. She added it is a new process and the law indicates each page to require a specific circulator signature. Hanson said she is not interpreting law, she’s asking the panel to do so.

3:04 p.m. – Jeremy Taylor said the issue centers around caucus night. He explained what his team did for gathering signatures on caucus night. He said many caucus sites provided circulator information from individual sites.

3:02 p.m. – Bret Richards is afforded an opportunity to speak about the circulator information. He added he believes there is a reasonable person interpretation that should be applied. He said he believes it is intended for the circulator to witness the signing. He said his campaign manager was not at each individual caucus site, so if the petitions from that night are disqualified, he seems fine with that. He said even if the signatures are wiped out, he’d still qualify for the ballot.

2:59 p.m. – I am wondering if they will point out the circulator box concerns for Feenstra are different than those concerns for other campaigns.

2:55 p.m. – Jeff King spoke on behalf of Congressman Steve King. Jeff said he’s extremely familiar with the nomination petition process. In Hanson’s objection letter, she imagines a definition for a circulator that does not exist. Hanson assumes the intent of the law is for the circulator to have witnessed the signatures being made. Jeff said it is not the true definition. Jeff also said he talked with the Secretary of State’s Office and was assured the King campaign was doing things the right way. Jeff said he began communicating with the Secretary of State’s Office in August of 2019 to make sure the campaign was in accordance with the law. He was told there was no definition of circulator in the law by the Secretary of State’s Office. He was instead sent the printed name, signature and address of the person responsible for circulating the petition. Jeff said there was not one single petition that wasn’t circulated by him for the King campaign.

2:55 p.m. – Hanson wanted to speak, but was told she’d have a chance to provide a rebuttal at the end.

2:52 p.m. – Ryan Koopmans, who was speaking on behalf of Sen. Feenstra, said the intent of the legislature is gauged by what the legislature said. And the panel and Iowa Courts have repeatedly held statutes governing nomination papers are to be liberally construed in favor of ballot access. He said there is no witness requirement. The person responsible for circulating the petition has to sign it. Being responsible for circulating the petition, Koopmans said, can mean multiple things and doesn’t have to include witnessing those signatures. Koopmans said if the panel is to conclude there is a witness element, it would dramatically change how we gather signatures in Iowa. Koopmans said Feenstra’s campaign called the Secretary of State’s Office to ask about new statutes and were told how they proceeded was OK.

2:48 p.m. – Cyndi Hanson talks about her objections based on the concerns over the circulator box.

2:48 p.m. – Challenges to Sen. Randy Feenstra’s petitions for Congressional District 4 are up first.

2:42 p.m. – Widen says after one hour a break may be in order before considering the final four objections. The panel is taking a 3-minute break.

2:42 p.m. – The vote to uphold the challenge failed 3-0.

2:39 p.m. – Precedent exists on this situation. But Matt says Everly’s petition states office sought is U.S. Representative District 2 and then leaves the district line saying “none.” He said in the past the panel has found no real threat to voter confusion when things are laid out that way.

2:37 p.m. – Everly said if he did something inappropriately he apologizes.

2:35 p.m. – Charlie Smithson spoke on behalf of the objector to Steve Everly’s petitions. The objection involved failing to check certain boxes.

2:33 p.m. – State-level candidates are done. Rita Hart was next, but the objection was withdrawn. There will be no discussion there. The next challenge is to Steven Everly in U.S. House District 2.

2:31 p.m. – Pate says he would probably not uphold the challenge on the merits. If they were voting on the basis of the merits of the challenge, that’s where his comfort level is. He has a different opinion on who is making the challenge due to the Coronavirus situation. He said more and more is being delegated. Only three or four people actually reviewed petitions, he said. He said that tends to be the political parties, they go back and share information with the districts and then decisions are made. Pate said he would vote to not uphold the challenge. Miller agrees. The challenge to Craig Clark’s petitions failed 3-0.

2:29 p.m. – Miller says that the challenge to the four signatures has been removed. Miller says the person living in the district in the process of moving, using a moving-to address is substantial compliance. He asked for precedent, but Matt said he is not aware of a previous challenge to an eligible elector in transition.

2:27 p.m. – Pate attempts to move on to the vote, Miller asks for discussion among the three members of the panel. Miller asks Sand what he thinks. Sand goes back to the same issue. It’s 43.14 that says an objection must be filed by an eligible elector. He appreciates efforts Rep. Highfill took and he understands why he is doing it, but Sand said they’re supposed to rule in favor of inclusion on the ballot. He doesn’t believe it is a valid challenge and it should die for lack of standing.

2:27 p.m. – Highfill says he gives in on the third issue.

2:20 p.m. – Craig Clark said if Highfill were honestly writing a letter based on someone asking him to, he would have referenced that in his letter, that he was writing on behalf of someone. That never happened. He added husbands and wives sign for each other all of the time.

2:18 p.m. – Widen asked Barbara De Bower to talk about her objections, but she deferred to Highfill. Highfill said he reached out to Barbara and Charlie to see if they wanted to challenge it and since he is much closer to Des Moines than they are, he did it for them.

2:17 p.m. – Now an objection to Craig Clark’s petitions. He gathered 51 signatures, one more than the minimum. Highfill filed objections because a wife signed for her husband and another signer is moving to the address she put on the affidavit.

2:15 p.m. – Iowa Code it simply states a written objection is required. Widen says it doesn’t specifically require a signature. Sand said he is basing his concern off of the idea that it has to be filed by the individual. He doesn’t think sending it in and adding to it is the definition of the word file. The challenge was upheld 3-0 after Sand said if he didn’t get it in in time then he’d cast his vote.

2:14 p.m. – Because they were in the middle of the vote, Pate said should be moving forward with vote. Miller said rules aren’t as formal as others and the issue should be addressed. Said the same questions he had before, did Joyce Neal sign any objection. Pate said he doesn’t believe there is. Pate said he is uncomfortable once a vote is being cast to shift to a different issue.

2:12 p.m. – The challenge was upheld by a Pate and Miller, but Sand is asking if there is standing with Highfill filing the objection.

2:10 p.m. – There is precedent for disqualifying a candidate in this regard.

2:09 p.m. – Omstead apologized saying he thought when he checked Republican on his nomination papers and affidavit of candidacy would change that registration. He said it was his fault and a misunderstanding. As soon as he got the email from Widen, he went to the DOT website and updated his voter registration.

2:08 p.m. – Objections to Jordan Omstead in House District 27. Objection is based on his voter registration. He was registered No Party until today, Widen said.

2:06 p.m. – The panel voted NOT to uphold the challenge. It was 3-0. The challenge was dismissed.

2:03 p.m. – Miller asked if the signature was provided by the eligible elector. Molly Widen said no, that is her handwriting after a phone call from Highfill.

2:02 p.m. – Highfill said he was in constant contact with members who live in those districts. Highfill said he asked if they wanted him to review the petitions. They contacted the local party and were “more than willing” to file the objection. The chair and vice-chair of the Mills County GOP were referenced by Highfill. Highfill said he filed on their behalf.

1:59 p.m. – Rob Sand said that Jake Highfill filing objections should not be allowed unless he is an eligible elector in the race.

“The act of filing is pretty specific and so to me that’s pretty important on these,” Sand said.

1:58 p.m. – Tom Miller says the panel doesn’t require perfection. The panel aims for substantial compliance. The date is not something so fundamental that they would disqualify, he said.

“We don’t disqualify people unless there’s a strong reason. The whole idea of letting the voters decide who they want for various offices and having as many candidates as possible is a public good.”

1:52 p.m. – Objection to Charlotte Dunnett’s petitions for State Rep. District 23. She put the date of Nov. 3, 2020 for election instead of June 2, 2020 which is the primary. Jake Highfill filed the complaint.

Dunnett provided a statement saying she was told by the Secretary of State’s Office to put the November date. She also said she downloaded the wrong candidate’s guide. She downloaded the guide for the General Election rather than the Primary at the advice of the Secretary of State’s Office.

1:50 p.m. – Objections to Rita Hart’s petitions have been withdrawn.