Opinion

Iowa's 2nd District race is proof that every vote counts

Just 6 votes separate Mariannette Miller-Meeks and Rita Hart

Rita Hart and Mariannette Miller-Meeks meet in an Oct. 2 debate moderated by The Gazette's James Q. Lynch and KCRG-TV's
Rita Hart and Mariannette Miller-Meeks meet in an Oct. 2 debate moderated by The Gazette’s James Q. Lynch and KCRG-TV’s Chris Earl in Cedar Rapids. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

Never believe anyone who says your vote does not count.

In any election, “My vote doesn’t count” is something of a silly thing to say anyway. It’s like if you made a free throw during a basketball game, then complained that your point didn’t count. Of course it did. They added it to your team’s score, didn’t they?

If you still need convincing that every vote truly counts, have we got a story for you.

Eastern Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District election — which just finished a recount nearly a month after Election Day — may well be decided by single digits.

In a race in which nearly 400,000 votes were cast, the candidates are separated by just six.

Six!

A state canvassing board is scheduled to meet Monday afternoon, the legal deadline, to certify the results.

If the results hold, Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks will replace retiring Democratic U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack. A recount completed Saturday in the 24-county district that includes Iowa City, Burlington and Davenport shows she holds the tiny lead over Democrat Rita Hart.

That is a margin of less than 0.009 percentage points. Not one percentage point. Not one tenth. Not even one hundredth. Nine thousandths of a percentage point. It takes a calculator to determine and a microscope to see the margin between the candidates.

Scott County’s top elections official believes the election is likely headed for court.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

Still not a believer? Think about some of the other votes cast — and not cast — in the 2nd District election.

More than 700 write-in votes were cast in the race. If just a tiny fraction of those had voted for one of the candidates instead, it could have changed the outcome.

And some Democrats are not altogether thrilled with what is apparently thousands of voters who checked the box for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden but left the 2nd District race blank. Across the district, Biden earned more than 3,000 more votes than Hart. If just the tiniest percentage of those Biden voters had also cast a vote for Hart, the race would look dramatically different.

So yes, folks, every vote counts.

Mask rule impact

It’s just one personal anecdote, but a pre-Thanksgiving trip to the grocery store sure suggested that face mask mandates appear to be effective after all.

I made a quick stop Wednesday at a store that previously declined to require face masks for all customers. And without that requirement, mask wearing in the store was sporadic.

With recent updates to Gov. Kim Reynolds’ public health orders, the store now is requiring masks. The store was extremely busy Wednesday, and every face I saw inside had a mask.

And it wasn’t because there were police officers or even store employees walking around, threatening to handcuff anyone not wearing a mask. People were wearing masks simply because they were required to.

Perhaps mask mandates are indeed effective. Given what we know about the effectiveness of wearing face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic, for the health of everyone in our state, let’s hope so.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

Erin Murphy covers Iowa politics and government. His column appears Monday in The Gazette. His email address is erin.murphy@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter at @ErinDMurphy.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.