IA-02 Race Narrows To Eight-Vote Margin, One County Remains

By Pat Rynard

November 26, 2020

The race for Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District is down to single digits with late developments from Jasper and Scott counties, while one final county has several thousand ballots to recount on Saturday. No matter who ends up the victor in the nation’s closest federal race, whether by a single-digit vote advantage or the winner being chosen by drawing a name out of a hat in the case of a tie, legal challenges will almost certainly follow the statewide certification next week.

There were just under 400,000 votes cast in the race.

Democrat Rita Hart made up part of the 35-vote gap between herself and Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks yesterday, posting a large net gain in a county with lingering legal and technical questions. She had a net gain of 26 votes in Scott County, while Miller-Meeks lost one in Jasper County.

The remaining piece in the recount puzzle is Hart’s home county of Clinton, which is meeting on Saturday morning to complete its recount. Around 6,000 ballots remain. On Tuesday, the Clinton County auditor said Hart had netted one vote based on what the recount board had tallied so far. A one-vote gain in Clinton County would not be enough to close the eight-vote lead Miller-Meeks currently holds.

All other counties have finished their recounts, certified and have been updated on the Secretary of State’s page.

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The Scott County recount board met again yesterday morning to discuss the discrepancy in total absentee ballots counted through the recount — there were 131 more absentee ballots in the recount total than in the official canvass earlier in the month. After adjourning to consult the county attorney, the county auditor put out a statement saying the recount board’s work was complete and that Hart had gained a net 26 votes.

A board of supervisors meeting that was scheduled for yesterday had already been pushed back to Monday to certify the results. A legal challenge will almost certainly result over the Scott County totals.

The numbers in Scott County changed far more than any other place in the district. Hart picked up 105 new votes there, while Miller-Meeks added 79. The next-closest change in numbers was Muscatine County, where Hart added 12 votes and Miller-Meeks two.

At the recount board meeting, members and the auditor speculated that it could have been human error during the recount or during the previous canvass.

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Last evening, Jasper County decided to run all of its ballots once again through a new machine after the Miller-Meeks campaign complained that a breakdown in the one used for the initial recount caused an error in the results, which showed Hart gaining a net nine votes. The new recount showed Hart did not gain votes in Jasper County and Miller-Meeks lost one.


by Pat Rynard
Posted 11/25/20

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  • Pat Rynard

    Pat Rynard founded Iowa Starting Line in 2015. He is now Courier Newsroom's National Political Editor, where he oversees political reporters across the country. He still keeps a close eye on Iowa politics, his dog's name is Frank, and football season is his favorite time of year.



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