OTTUMWA, Iowa – The Scott County recount board has now adjourned, despite knowing that a significant discrepancy remains in its tabulation of the absentee ballots received by the Scott County Auditor and included in the certified election results.
According to the auditor’s records, 64,052 absentee ballots were counted in the election. The recount board’s report states its members counted 64,183 absentee ballots. When this discrepancy was discovered, the county auditor stated to the recount board that she believed the recount board’s number was inaccurate and that the recount board should determine the cause of the discrepancy.
The representative for State Senator Marinnette Miller-Meeks, R-Ottumwa, on the recount board requested that the recount board conduct a full machine recount of the absentee ballots. This would have allowed the recount board to verify the total number of absentee ballots and to compare the machine recount tabulations to those previously reported by the auditor and to the tabulations in the recount board’s proposed report. The recount board voted 2-1 to reject the proposal and instead decided to adjourn. The recount board report was not signed by the Miller-Meeks representative due to the unexplained discrepancy in the total number of absentee ballots.
“The recount of absentee ballots in Scott County was unreliable,” said Miller-Meeks campaign attorney Alan Ostergren. “The campaign wanted a full machine recount of the absentee ballots to get to the bottom of this discrepancy. Instead, the board adjourned and signed a report that the county auditor, a Democrat, says is not accurate and must be corrected.”
Miller-Meeks campaign states that former State Senator Rita Hart’s, D-Wheatfield, campaign has taken inconsistent positions on the issue of a numerical discrepancy between the records of a county auditor and the number of ballots reviewed by a recount board.
As an example, they said the Johnson County recount board found an extra single absentee ballot in a box of absentee ballots, the Hart campaign representative strenuously objected to counting the ballot because it had not been included in the election results. This resulted in that ballot, cast for Miller-Meeks, not being included in the recount board’s report. In Scott County, the Hart campaign took the exact opposite position – to count ballots that are not in the auditor’s tally of election results.
“The Hart campaign’s gamesmanship with this process must stop. They want to disenfranchise Miller-Meeks voters at every opportunity. The Miller-Meeks campaign believes that all lawful votes should be counted in a process with transparency and full accountability. All Iowans should have confidence that the election results reported to the Secretary of State are accurate. The Scott County recount board’s examination of absentee ballots did not meet this standard,” Ostergren said.
The Iowa Secretary of State’s unofficial results as of Wednesday afternoon has Miller-Meeks leading by 43 votes, 196,888 to 196,845, but does not include recounts in Clinton, Jasper, and Scott counties where Hart unofficially picked up votes.