DES MOINES, Iowa – Secretary of State Paul Pate is weighing in on a controversial northeast Iowa election.
Democrat Kayla Koether is trying to get 33 absentee ballots counted in Winneshiek County. She currently trails incumbent Republican Michael Bergan by nine votes in Iowa House District 55 and the ballots in question arrived after election day and do not have a postmark on them.
Pate says the ballots also do not have the “Intelligent Mail barcode” on them that is authorized by state law and imprinted by county auditors. “Therefore,” he says, “they are not eligible to be counted under Iowa law.”
Pate says only six Iowa counties use the “Intelligent Mail barcode” on absentee ballots and Winneshiek is not one of them.
However, according to court documents, Winneshiek County Auditor Ben Steines says a scan of postal bar codes revealed 29 ballots were mailed on November 5, the state-mandated deadline.
Pate has now issued the following statement on this matter:
“As Secretary of State, I swear an oath to uphold the Constitution and Laws of the State of Iowa, and I support every eligible vote being counted. Trying to change the rules after an election is not the way elections work in Iowa. In addition, this office and the Winneshiek County Auditor have complied with the district court order in all respects.”
“I will do everything under the law to ensure every voter is provided the same rights. I am disappointed by the political rhetoric. My job is to be the referee of elections and not side with one candidate or party. Ms. Koether has already requested and received recounts in two counties in House District 55, and she has the right under the law to file an election contest.”