Staff Editorial

Iowa's 2nd District contest shows recount process needs clarified

Hart's decision is perfectly legal, although we're wary of putting the final result in the hands of Hart's fellow partisans

Iowa’s state canvassing board has declared Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks the winner in Iowa’s 2nd District congressional race, edging Democrat Rita Hart by just six votes in the 24-county district. Hart is skipping a state process to challenge the result and is instead taking her case to the U.S. House Committee on Administration.

Hart contends taking her fight to a panel of state judges, which would be required to rule by Dec. 8, leaves too little time to review issues with the official count. Republicans, of course, are crying foul about the prospect of the Democratically-controlled House overturning the certified result.

Hart’s decision is perfectly legal, although we’re wary of putting the final result in the hands of Hart’s fellow partisans. We hope for a transparent process where the House committee explains what it’s doing and why. If it chooses to count votes that were not included in the canvass, it had better have a solid legal argument for doing so.

We also hope the process doesn’t drag on for months, leaving a district including Iowa City, Davenport and Burlington without House representation.

Beyond this particular dispute, we’ve found a state recount process in need of legislative attention.

The recount raised multiple issues. Why are there no uniform rules for how individual counties conduct a recount or communicate the results to the public? Decisions on whether to recount by hand or using machines seemed arbitrary. There should be one set of procedures.

Hart raises some valid questions about the need to examine under votes for voter intent and to count lawfully cast votes not included in the initial vote count.

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Iowa’s recount timeline also seems unduly compressed. Trying to fit a 24-county recount into a tight window between the election and canvassing deadline proved difficult and left unsettled issues. Imagine a scenario where a statewide race resulted in a recount. The six-day court challenge period also is too brief to conduct a thorough review of outstanding disputes.

A better, clearer process would give voters more confidence in the final result. It would also reduce the likelihood of an Iowa election being decided in Washington, D.C.

(319) 398-8262; editorial@thegazette.com

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