ELECTION 2020

Uncalled U.S. House race gets even tighter in Iowa

Johnson County to certify vote totals Wednesday

Karl Arndt, a Johnson County elections technician, places ballots in a scanning machine Nov. 18 at the Johnson County Ad
Karl Arndt, a Johnson County elections technician, places ballots in a scanning machine Nov. 18 at the Johnson County Administration building in Iowa City. The Johnson County Board of Supervisors is to meet Wednesday to certify the election results, which include the 2nd Congressional District, the closest federal race in the nation. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)
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DAVENPORT — The razor-thin margin separating the Republican and Democrat candidates for an open southeast Iowa congressional seat continues to narrow as counties complete their recount of votes in what could become a single-digit race.

Republican state Sen. Mariannette Miller-Meeks held a 41-vote lead — out of more than 394,400 votes cast — in the Iowa 2nd congressional district race as of late Tuesday afternoon, according to the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office.

Miller-Meeks, of Ottumwa, had led Democrat Rita Hart, of Wheatland, by 47 votes in unofficial results before recounts began last week in what has become the closest federal race in the country.

None of the four counties Hart carried had reported new totals, including Scott, Johnson and Clinton counties — the three largest in the district where the recount is taking longer.

Johnson County Auditor Travis Weipert said Hart also netted three votes over Miller-Meeks in the heavily Democratic county, according to unofficial results.

The Johnson County Board of Supervisors is to convene at 11 a.m. today to certify the election results. Unofficial tallies are 56,129 for Hart and 24,101 for Miller-Meeks.

Hart had netted 30 votes in Scott County after the recount board wrapped up its counting on Saturday evening of absentee votes, according to representatives from both campaigns.

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The board reconvened Tuesday afternoon to recount a single Davenport precinct after a tabulation error was found and corrected and submitted its report to the Scott County auditor.

Overall, Hart picked up a net of 26 votes over Miller-Meeks in Scott County, who picked up four votes from Election Day ballots, according to an attorney for her campaign.

The recount board submitted its report to the Scott County auditor Tuesday but has to reconvene Monday because the recount had 131 more ballots than the canvass of votes.

Clinton County Auditor Eric Van Lancker said Hart had netted one vote over Miller-Meeks, but that the recount board still had about 5,000 to 6,000 absentee votes yet to count and would not reconvene until Saturday due to scheduling conflicts.

Van Lancker said he expected the recount board to complete counting all of the outstanding absentee ballots Saturday.

On Tuesday, Hart’s campaign chastised the Miller-Meeks’ campaign for also disputing the final recount proceedings in Jasper County, where a tabulator machine broke down shortly after the recount began.

The amended vote totals from Jasper County were not reflected in the unofficial results reported Tuesday afternoon on the Iowa Secretary of State’s website. Combined with Scott, Johnson and Clinton counties, that would shrink Miller-Meeks’ lead to a few votes.

Jasper County Auditor Dennis Parrott stressed that reporting any amended vote tally was “premature.” He said the recount board had not finished counting all ballots and was to reconvene Wednesday.

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Eighteen out of 24 counties in the district had completed their recounts as of late Tuesday afternoon, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.

The Iowa Executive Council, in its role as the Iowa Board of Canvass, is slated to meet at 3 p.m. Monday to certify statewide 2020 election results.

Miller-Meeks and Hart are vying to replace U.S. Rep. David Loebsack, a Democrat who is retiring after holding the seat for seven terms.

No Iowa congressional race has been so close and led to a recount in more than a century, said Leo Landis, state curator for the State Historical Society of Iowa.

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