ELECTION 2020

Rita Hart campaign outlines next steps in Iowa 2nd Congressional District recount

In the coming days, representatives chosen by the campaigns in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District will review tens of thousands of ballots cast in the still-too-close-to-call U.S. House race.

Republican state Sen. Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Ottumwa still holds a 47-vote lead over Democratic former state Sen. Rita Hart of Wheatland out of the more than 394,000 votes cast in the race.

Hart, as of Friday, had requested a recount in all 24 counties in the district.

Hart’s campaign put out a memo Monday outlining how the recount process will proceed.

“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.”

During the last two weeks, the race has seesawed back and forth by slim margins between the two candidates due to reporting errors discovered in precincts in Jasper and Lucas counties.

“Given the number of errors that have emerged, Iowans deserve to know that all results are accurate before they are finalized,” Hart’s campaign said, reiterating that the race is far from over.

The campaign pointed to tweets last week from Democratic Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller stating that is not unusual for recounts to shift a margin by 50 to 100 votes. Miller was referencing the U.S. presidential election, where President Donald Trump has refused to concede to Joe Biden and has spread unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud.

A spokesman for Miller-Meeks campaign could not immediately be reached for comment Monday evening.

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The Scott County Board of Supervisors met Monday for a special meeting to approve a resolution ordering a recount in what has become the closest federal election in the country.

Scott County Auditor Roxanna Moritz said the recount process will start at 8 a.m. Tuesday at the county’s Tremont Avenue facility.

“We have agreed to work from 8 (a.m.) to 8 (p.m.),” Moritz responded in a text message.

According to Hart’s campaign and the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office, in the coming days each of the 24 counties in the district will establish a three-member recount board. Each board will consist of a representative selected by Hart’s campaign, a representative selected by Miller-Meeks’ campaign, and a third representative that is jointly selected by both campaigns.

If the representatives cannot agree on a third person, the chief judge of the judicial district will appoint the third panelist.

The campaigns have until 8 a.m. Wednesday or 8 a.m. Thursday, depending on when the county canvassed its votes, to pick a third member. If they cannot agree, the chief judge has two days to appoint the final member.

Once established, the board is responsible for recounting and re-examining ballots that have already been counted by county election officials, going precinct by precinct. The board also determines the method by which each recount is conducted, Moritz said.

Counties have 18 calendar days from their canvass of votes to complete their recounts, which would be Nov. 27 or 28.

Other details shared by Hart’s campaign about the recount process include:

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— The recount board does not analyze or review any ballots that were not previously counted, and will not analyze or review canceled, defective, provisional, rejected or spoiled ballots, as election officials have already made decisions regarding whether these ballots should be counted.

— The county auditor, or his or her designee, is responsible for maintaining the security of all ballots and operating tabulating machines in the event of a machine recount.

— Each county’s recount is open to the public and each campaign and political party has the ability to appoint an observer.

The state will not declare an official winner in the race until it certifies the general election results statewide Nov. 30. The Associated Press also announced it will not call the race until then.

Miller-Meeks, who has repeatedly claimed victory in the race despite the fluctuating vote totals and razor-thin margin, and Hart were in Washington, D.C., last week to participate in orientation for new members of Congress.

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