Hart Continues Effort to Count All Votes With Next Steps in IA-02 Contest

[BFIA Editor’s note:  Update from @sarahferris, congressional reporter for Politico: Pelosi says House Admin Committee will decide *Monday* if the Democrat’s challenge “meets certain criteria to go forward”]

IA-02 Recount update from Rita Hart for Congress:

“Hart’s case is built on 22 uncounted ballots. She claims that those ballots were legally cast and unlawfully excluded from the state’s certified results in the district… In aggregate, these ballots would put Hart ahead if they were counted.”

As at least 22 Iowans who legally cast their ballots wait to have their votes counted in the race for Iowa’s Second Congressional District, Zachary Oren-Smith of the Iowa City Press-Citizen gives an in-depth profile of the contest of the contest and evidence presented by Rita Hart to include these 22 ballots in the final tally.

Iowa City Press-Citizen: Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District: What you need to know about the nation’s closest election between Miller-Meeks and Hart

By Zachary Oren-Smith, March 25, 2021

IOWA CITY, IOWA — After a districtwide recount showed her winning by six votes, Congress provisionally seated Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks pending a challenge from Democrat Rita Hart.

Here’s a look at what you need to know as her challenge moves forward…

Iowa Code delegates the administration of recounts to ad hoc county recount commissions consisting of two members appointed by both campaigns and a third member who the campaigns mutually agreed upon. Across the 24 counties, processes varied widely. Jefferson County did a full-hand recount, while Marion did a recount by machine. Others, like Johnson County, chose a method making use of both highspeed vote-counting machines and hand count procedures…

The U.S. Committee on House Administration voted to table a motion to dismiss Hart’s challenge and instead chose to move forward with a fact-finding process. Both campaigns have submitted answers to the committee’s questions, and they have until March 29 to submit replies. The committee has not outlined a timeline or structure for how it intends to proceed…

The Federal Contested Elections Act of 1969 gives candidates for the U.S. House a process for appealing their losses. It points these challenges at the Committee on House Administration…

Hart’s case is built on 22 uncounted ballots. She claims that those ballots were legally cast and unlawfully excluded from the state’s certified results in the district.

The 22 ballots come from five different counties and differ widely in terms of the circumstances that allegedly led them to be kept out of the count. In two cases, Hart’s petition alleges voters dropped ballots off with election officials who set them aside without counting them. In another, she says an absentee ballot was rejected because the signature was on the wrong part of the envelope. In aggregate, these ballots would put Hart ahead if they were counted.

Hart is also asking Congress to conduct a new recount, this time by hand. Only Jefferson County did a hand recount in November. All other counties used high-speed vote tabulators to some extent. The campaign cites Maxwell Palmer, a professor of political and computer science at Boston University, who estimated that counting machine errors could account for as many as 38 validly cast ballots for either candidate…

Many candidates who’ve lost elections — particularly close ones — have appealed to Congress…

If the committee determines that Hart provides enough evidence, it could call for another election or decide to investigate the original election. This could involve consideration of a segment of ballots or a full hand recount.

At the end of its investigation, Hart’s contest could be dismissed or the committee could draft a resolution entitling her to the seat…

There were fewer than 10 days between the completion of the November 2020 recount of IA-02 and Iowa Code’s deadline for an election contest court to make a ruling on who is entitled to the seat. In December, Hart argued this was not enough time to seek the hand recount they’d asked for. November’s recount took several weeks.

It was for this reason, she said, the state’s option for an appeal wasn’t sufficient. An appeal Federal Contested Elections Act offered an extended timeline, she said.

Article I, Section 5 of the U.S. Constitution gives the U.S. House authority to judge elections, returns and qualifications for its own membership. This supersedes even the states these members would represent.


Read the full piece here.

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