DES MOINES, Iowa – With 47 votes separating State Senator Marianette Miller-Meeks, R-Ottumwa, who leads former State Senator Rita Hart, D-Wheatland, the Hart campaign last Thursday requested a recount in every county in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District.
Jasper County announced an over-reporting error that, after corrected, put Hart ahead of State Senator Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Ottumwa. On Tuesday, Lucas County reported an under-reporting error that put Miller-Meeks back into the lead once corrected.
Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate ordered an audit of the specific precincts and requested a countywide recount in both Jasper and Lucas counties that have now been completed.
After Lucas County’s recount on Thursday, State Senator Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Ottumwa, leads Hart by 47 votes – 49.92 percent (196,862) to 49.90 percent (196,815). This is the closest federal race in the nation.
Iowa law states that if the margin of victory is fifty votes or one percent of the total number of votes cast, whichever is greater, the state will cover the cost of the recount.
Hart’s campaign on Monday released a memo outlining their strategy during the recount.
“With just 47 votes separating the two candidates, Rita Hart for Iowa’s first priority is to make sure that all legally cast votes are counted and Iowans’ voices are heard,” her campaign said in a statement.
“As our campaign continues to monitor the results and ballots from around the district that remain to be counted, we are optimistic that Rita will emerge victorious,” they added.
Miller-Meeks’ campaign, who declared victory on Tuesday, responded to the recount request.
“The recount of votes in all 24 counties, which have already been officially certified, will ensure once again that every legal vote has been counted. That has been Senator Miller-Meeks’ expectation, desire, and commitment throughout the campaign. We look forward to a speedy and efficient process to confirm that she is the winner of this race,” Eric Woolson, campaign spokesperson, said in a released statement.
“The integrity of Iowa’s elections is my top priority and we are taking all the necessary steps to ensure the vote count is accurate,” Pate said last Tuesday.
He said following Jasper County’s data entry error, and he asked all 99 county auditors to double-check their results.
“These human errors are unfortunate and frustrating, but the system is working. We have voter ID, paper ballots, post-election audits and a paper trail to protect the sanctity of the vote,” Pate added.
Each of the 24 counties in the Congressional district will select a three-person recount board. The board will include a Miller-Meeks campaign representative, a Hart campaign representative, and a third party agreed upon by both candidates. If both campaigns can’t agree on the third board member, the county’s judicial district’s chief justice will appoint that person.
The recount board will not analyze or review ballots not previously counted. They will not analyze or review ballots that were excluded by county election officials. Each county auditor, or his or her representative, is responsible for the security of all ballots and operating tabulating machines if a machine recount takes place.
Each county’s recount is open to the public, and each campaign and political party can appoint an observer.
Counties have 18 days from their canvass date to complete the recount, so the recount needs to be finalized by November 27 or 28.
A winner will not be declared until the Iowa Secretary of State’s office certifies the results on November 30.