FROM: Zach Meunier, Campaign Manager, Rita Hart for Iowa
DATE: Monday, November 16, 2020
RE: Next Steps in IA-02 Recount
CLOSEST FEDERAL RACE IN THE COUNTRY
Following preliminary results in Iowa’s Second Congressional District, this race remains the closest federal competition in the country. 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. 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 we have seen the incredibly slim margin in this race shift back and forth between the two candidates due to reporting errors in several precincts. Given the number of errors that have emerged, Iowans deserve to know that all results are accurate before they are finalized.
As of Friday, November 13 — in accordance with Iowa law — our campaign has submitted a recount request to auditors in each of the 24 counties in Iowa’s Second Congressional District. We look forward to working with county auditors and the Miller-Meeks campaign to ensure all votes are accurately counted.
NEXT STEPS IN THE RECOUNT PROCESS
In the coming days, each of the 24 counties in the Second Congressional District will establish a Recount Board. Each Recount Board will consist of a representative selected by Rita Hart’s campaign, a representative selected by Mariannette Miller-Meeks’ campaign, and a third representative that is jointly selected by both campaign representatives. If the representatives cannot agree upon a third person, the Chief Judge of the Judicial District will appoint the third panelist.
Once established, the Board is responsible for recounting and reexamining ballots that have already been counted by election officials. The Board goes precinct by precinct and tabulates all votes counted by election officials. The Recount Board also determines the method by which each recount is conducted.
Deadlines and subsequent timelines for the recount process depend on when each county conducted their respective canvasses. Given these dates and deadlines, recounts in each county in the district may start at different times, depending on a number of factors.
ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES IN THE RECOUNT PROCESS
While each county’s Recount Board will operate with different parameters and timelines, their basic responsibilities are the same:
The Recount Board does not analyze or review any ballots that were not previously counted. Therefore, the Board does 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 Recount Board does not review votes cast in other elections. The Board is only responsible for analyzing and reviewing results in Iowa’s Second Congressional District—not the presidential election or any other federal, state, or local election.
The Recount Board is in charge of the recount process. It will determine the rules of a recount, select a third Recount Board representative, and conduct the recount. The auditor 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.
RECOUNTS OFTEN SHIFT THE MARGIN IN TIGHT RACES
This race is far from over, and recounts in close elections have a history of changing the outcome of elections with close margins.
In 2008, the U.S. Senate race in Minnesota resulted in a mandatory recount that began with Al Franken down by 215 votes. After reviewing ballots during the recount and counting 953 wrongly rejected absentee ballots, the State Canvassing Board officially certified the recount results with Franken holding a 225-vote lead.
The margin in this race is much closer than that margin and, as Iowa’s Attorney General said the other day, it is not unusual for recounts to shift a margin 50-100 votes.
As a reminder, this race currently holds a margin of 47 votes.