Recounts are all but certain to be requested in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District, the question is where they will occur.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks leads Democrat Rita Hart 196,852 votes to 196,812, a margin of only 40 votes, according to unofficial results from the Iowa Secretary of State’s office. On Monday, unofficial results showed Hart leading Miller-Meeks by 163 votes, 196,608 to 196,445.
Each of Iowa’s 99 counties have until the end of today to certify election results. Campaigns then have three days to request a recount, either by county or precinct.
The fluctuating numbers include late-arriving absentee ballots (postmarked by Election Day), provisional ballots and votes cast by military members overseas.
Major swings in vote totals have occurred, however, not due to late-arriving or provisional ballots, but because of errors detected in at least two counties.
Secretary of State Paul Pate and Lucas County Auditor Julie Masters are holding a press conference today in Chariton “to discuss unofficial election results in one Lucas County precinct.”
On election night, the unofficial results in Lucas County showed Miller-Meeks leading Hart 2,631 votes to 1,222. By Monday evening, however, data on the secretary of state’s website changed to show Miller-Meeks with 261 more votes, for a total of 2,892, compared to Hart’s additional 75 votes, which boosted her total to 1,297.
Late on Tuesday morning Pate ordered an audit of the Russell precinct and a countywide recount because the precinct’s results were not included in Lucas County’s initial tally of votes.
“Test data was still in the system instead of the election night results,” Pate said in a statement. “This error has been corrected, and the new totals have been added to the statewide unofficial results.
The countywide recount and precinct-level hand count are expected to take place on Thursday, the Lucas County auditor said.
“Monday afternoon it was determined the results of one precinct in Lucas County was not reported on election night,” Masters said. “Fortunately, we have processes in place in Iowa that allowed me to catch the error and correct it before certifying results.”
Today is the deadline for counties to certify their election results, though, as Pate pointed out at the press conference, winners are not officially declared until the statewide canvass of votes on Nov. 30.
During a virtual press conference with reporters, Shayla McCormally, serving as legal counsel for Hart’s campaign, questioned the transparency surrounding the decision to certify election results in Lucas County before holding the recount.
“Our concern is that this has not been a very transparent process,” McCormally said. “Knowing at the 11th hour that there was a significant issue that changes the results of a congressional race and turning right around at the beginning of the next business day and pushing it (certification) through, that is our concern.”
McCormally said the Lucas County Board of Supervisors expressed concern Tuesday morning during the canvass meeting about certifying the results before a recount was conducted, but Secretary Pate advised the board to certify and told them the vote totals would be amended if the recount yields new results.
“The concern is, six days after the election we have new results, and now they push through a certification without a true investigation into what happened,” McCormally said.
When a similarly dramatic swing was detected last week in Jasper County, a countywide recount was completed Saturday and a hand count of ballots from the Clear Creek-Poweshiek precinct was completed Monday. Pate and Jasper County Auditor Dennis Parrott said the missteps there were caused by “human error” that resulted in more than 300 votes being incorrectly added to Miller-Meeks’ vote total on election night.
Iowa Public Radio reported on Saturday that the recount did not impact the district-wide preliminary outcome of the 2nd District race.
As of Tuesday afternoon, here’s a look at how vote totals have changed for the candidates since election night. No change either means there has been no change in the county’s vote totals or their data on late-arriving and provisional ballots has not yet been reflected on the secretary of state’s website.
Rita Hart Changes
Appanoose: +3 votes
Cedar: No change
Clarke: No change
Davis: No change
Des Moines: +5
Van Buren: +1
Wayne: No change
Mariannette Miller-Meeks Changes
Appanoose: No change
Cedar: No change
Clarke: +4 votes
Des Moines: +3
Monroe: No change
Van Buren: +1
Wayne: No change
By Elizabeth Meyer
Posted 11/10/20, Updated 11/11/20
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