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Iowa Democrat appeals to U.S. House to overturn election defeat

Nancy Pelosi, (D) California.
Nancy Pelosi, (D) California.

Rita hart lost by six votes in Iowa's 2nd Congressional District.

Posted: Dec 2, 2020 3:13 PM
Updated: Dec 2, 2020 5:29 PM

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A Democratic congressional candidate in Iowa who trailed by six votes after a recount said Wednesday she will forgo further legal challenges in the state and instead appeal directly to the U.S. House for review.

Rita Hart's campaign had until Wednesday afternoon to contest the election under Iowa law following Monday's certification of results in which Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks was declared the winner of the closest House race in decades.

An election contest in Iowa would have triggered the formation of a five-judge panel that would have been required to rule on who won the race by Tuesday, Dec. 8.

Hart's campaign said that quick timeline would not allow enough time to review the ballots, including thousands of unexamined undervotes and overvotes and others that were not counted for a variety of reasons.

Instead, the campaign said that Hart would file an election contest with the U.S. House under the Federal Contested Elections Act in the coming weeks.

Governor Kim Reynolds released the following statement on the stituation:

“Mariannette Miller Meeks was elected by Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District, and I was proud to certify that result as part of a bipartisan panel. If Rita Hart believes those results are wrong, then she had the opportunity to bring her case in an Iowa court. By heading straight to a Democratic-controlled Congress, Hart is attempting to undermine the voice of Iowans."

Hart's filing, due within 30 days after Monday's certification, will trigger a proceeding in front of the House Committee on Administration that would allow Hart to offer testimony and evidence.

The Democratic-controlled House could also direct the committee to conduct its own investigation and recount, a process that in the past has included reviewing election records and examining disputed ballots.

Ultimately, the committee would file a report to the full House with its findings on who won the most votes and recommending who should fill the seat representing southeast Iowa. The House could act on a simple majority vote.

It wasn't immediately clear whether the process would prevent Miller-Meeks from being sworn in on Jan. 3 to represent the district, which includes Davenport, Iowa City and much of southeastern Iowa.

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate released the following statement regarding the Second Congressional District race:

“A bipartisan and transparent recount process in all 24 counties of the Second Congressional District confirmed Iowans elected Mariannette Miller-Meeks. Under Iowa law the deadline to contest the election is today. Iowans made their voices heard in record numbers, and in the event of a contested election they deserve to have the contest process decided by Iowa judges. The will of Iowa voters should not be overturned by partisan Washington, D.C. politicians.” 

Hart requested a recount in all 24 counties in the district after trailing by 47 votes, following the discovery of tabulation errors that twice flipped the lead back and forth between the two candidates.

The recount cut the deficit to six votes. Hart's campaign noted that elections officials did not review all ballots that the machines considered overvotes or undervotes to determine voter intent, and were barred from considering others that were not counted during the initial canvass.

“While that recount considered more votes, limitations in Iowa law mean there are more legally cast votes left to be counted,” Hart campaign manager Zach Meunier said. “With a margin this small, it is critical that we take this next step to ensure Iowans’ ballots that were legally cast are counted.”

The campaign said that some of the uncounted ballots came from active-duty military members overseas.

Miller-Meeks campaign lawyer Alan Ostergren criticized Hart for bypassing the Iowa legal system in favor of a process that will be overseen by House Democrats, arguing that a state contest would have confirmed the outcome.

“Rita Hart has chosen a political process controlled by Nancy Pelosi over a legal process controlled by Iowa judges. All Iowans should be outraged by this decision,” he said.

The race is the closest House contest since one in Indiana in 1984. In that case, the Democratic-controlled House voted to seat the Democratic incumbent Frank McCloskey after its recount determined he won by four votes, nullifying the state's certification of his Republican challenger as the winner.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 454989

Reported Deaths: 6163
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin943781502
Ramsey40624748
Dakota33540354
Anoka31357368
Washington20533237
Stearns18091190
St. Louis13970250
Scott1217799
Wright11791107
Olmsted1078075
Sherburne829669
Carver704439
Clay658884
Rice624274
Kandiyohi558072
Blue Earth548033
Crow Wing490478
Otter Tail464268
Chisago459538
Benton423688
Winona394548
Douglas379366
Nobles374647
Mower373729
Goodhue356863
Polk330760
McLeod328147
Beltrami315748
Morrison314545
Lyon305539
Becker288939
Itasca287343
Isanti285643
Carlton284043
Steele278910
Pine270315
Freeborn254123
Todd233730
Nicollet229438
Brown218034
Mille Lacs215645
Le Sueur214216
Cass210724
Meeker201333
Waseca193216
Wabasha17463
Martin171926
Roseau166417
Hubbard150738
Redwood141127
Houston140014
Dodge13934
Renville138440
Chippewa133032
Cottonwood129018
Fillmore12698
Wadena120818
Rock112012
Aitkin111433
Sibley10997
Faribault109416
Watonwan10688
Pennington101016
Kanabec99618
Pipestone96823
Yellow Medicine94916
Murray9117
Jackson87310
Swift84518
Pope7475
Stevens7078
Marshall70315
Clearwater68814
Lake66315
Lac qui Parle66116
Wilkin6339
Koochiching60610
Lincoln4912
Unassigned47369
Big Stone4693
Grant4388
Norman4258
Mahnomen4167
Kittson37420
Red Lake3204
Traverse2613
Lake of the Woods1961
Cook1160

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 311430

Reported Deaths: 4433
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk46841465
Linn18065279
Scott15872172
Black Hawk14090243
Woodbury13129181
Johnson1230052
Dubuque11625159
Pottawattamie9166115
Dallas908972
Story881038
Cerro Gordo473572
Webster472477
Sioux459757
Warren459339
Clinton458168
Marshall431162
Buena Vista396330
Muscatine396178
Des Moines395143
Plymouth353270
Wapello350798
Jasper332859
Lee324632
Marion309353
Jones274950
Henry267131
Carroll258434
Bremer250148
Crawford234724
Boone222917
Washington222933
Benton213650
Mahaska197937
Jackson195032
Tama190259
Dickinson188829
Kossuth180644
Delaware176236
Clay172521
Wright167124
Fayette166024
Hamilton162330
Buchanan162224
Winneshiek160820
Harrison158562
Hardin157931
Cedar155619
Clayton153849
Butler151724
Page147115
Floyd141636
Cherokee140127
Mills138517
Lyon137533
Poweshiek135224
Hancock131924
Allamakee130930
Iowa127722
Madison123910
Calhoun12349
Grundy122628
Winnebago122229
Jefferson122125
Mitchell116837
Louisa116230
Cass115243
Chickasaw113712
Appanoose112640
Sac112215
Union111623
Emmet111332
Humboldt106819
Shelby105527
Guthrie104424
Franklin103618
Unassigned10160
Palo Alto92411
Montgomery89124
Keokuk86326
Howard85919
Monroe82220
Clarke8129
Pocahontas78211
Ida76030
Davis70321
Greene6977
Adair69620
Monona68518
Lucas66710
Osceola64711
Worth6194
Taylor5999
Fremont5246
Van Buren50215
Decatur4974
Ringgold45111
Audubon4228
Wayne42021
Adams3003
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