ELECTION 2020

Democrat Rita Hart to seek full recount in tight US House 2 race in Iowa

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the timeline for a recount in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District. The recount could be completed by late November, before the state officially certifies all election results on Nov. 30. (Updated Nov. 13, 2020, 9:20 a.m.)

It could be after Thanksgiving before the winner of Iowa’s remarkably close 2nd Congressional District race will be known with certainty.

Democrat Rita Hart’s campaign said Thursday it plans to request a full recount of the results.

That means once the initial counting — and recounting, in some places — is completed, the nearly 400,000 ballots cast in the race will be counted again.

The recount could be finished in time for the state to officially certified all election results on November 30.

As of Thursday afternoon, the still-unofficial results showed Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks leading Hart by a mere 47 votes out of 394,383 cast, a margin of just more than .01 percent.

Because of the race’s razor-thin margin, no media outlets have declared a winner.

On Thursday, both Miller-Meeks and Hart attended orientation for new members of Congress in Washington, D.C.

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“With so much at stake in this election and such a slim margin separating the candidates, Iowans deserve to know categorically that their ballots have been accurately counted,” Hart campaign manager Zach Meunier said in a news release. “Over the last several days, multiple consequential errors have materialized in this race that have serious implications for the district’s future representation. Given the errors found in Jasper and Lucas counties at the eleventh hour, we are moving forward today with requests for a complete recount of each precinct in the 2nd Congressional District to make sure all results have been reported accurately.”

Over the past two weeks, local elections officials have discovered errors in the reporting of 2nd District results in two precincts: one each in Jasper and Lucas counties. Officials have recounted the ballots in those two precincts by hand, and as an extra layer of caution, also recounted the entire county’s ballots by machine.

The recalculating of results from Jasper County swung the race’s leader multiple times. The Lucas County recount, which was began Thursday, has not changed either candidate’s vote totals. The recount continues today with a hand recount of one precinct.

The rest of the district’s 24 counties have completed their official counting of the ballots — also called a canvass. Once the Hart campaign officially files its request, all 24 counties will schedule their recounts. The counties have 18 days from their canvass to complete their recounts, a spokesman for the Iowa Secretary of State’s office said.

A statement from the Miller-Meeks campaign expressed confidence that she will retain her advantage after all the votes are recounted.

“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 (state) Sen. Miller-Meeks’ expectation, desire and commitment throughout the campaign,” the campaign’s statement said. “We look forward to a speedy and efficient process to confirm that she is the winner of this race.”

The 2nd Congressional District race is the closest in Iowa in more than a century, according to a state historian.

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