Iowa’s canvassing board on Monday certified the results of each race held in Iowa during the 2020 general election, including the 2nd Congressional District contest, where Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks held a six-vote margin over Democrat Rita Hart out of nearly 400,000 cast. The AP has decided to not officially call the race until the legal process plays out due to the extremely narrow result.
The executive board, comprised of Gov. Kim Reynolds, Secretary of State Paul Pate, Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald, Auditor Rob Sand and Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig, unanimously certified the results on Monday afternoon.
Once again, I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to the voters of #ia02!
I will never quit fighting for you and your opportunity at the American Dream!
— Dr. Miller-Meeks (@millermeeks) November 30, 2020
The vote margin separating Miller-Meeks and Hart is the smallest of any congressional race in Iowa since 1916, when Republican George Scott defeated Democrat T.J. Steele by four votes to represent the 11th Congressional District.
In a statement Monday following the certification vote, Hart’s campaign manager Zach Meunier alluded to potential legal action ahead.
“Under Iowa law, this recount process was designed to count ballots that had already been tallied, meaning that additional legal ballots may have yet to be counted,” Meunier said. “Over the next few days, we will outline our next steps in this process to ensure that all Iowans’ voices are heard.”
It is not the only House race in the country with an exceedingly close margin, however. In New York’s 22nd District, the margin between Democratic Congressman Anthony Brindisi and Republican Claudia Tenney also hangs in the low double digits.
Though Democrats will continue to hold control of the U.S. House when the 117th Congress convenes in January, their majority will shrink considerably when the new members are seated. The Associated Press still has not called seven House contests, including Iowa’s 2nd District race, but the Republican candidate is leading in all of them. If those Republican candidates hold their leads and win, Democrats will control 222 seats in January compared to Republicans’ 205. The majority requires 218 seats.
On election night, Miller-Meeks held a 282-vote lead over Hart. On Nov. 13, the Hart campaign requested a districtwide recount. When the recounts began, Miller-Meeks lead was reduced to 47 after additional mail-in and provisional ballots were counted, and two counties with major precinct reporting errors were corrected.
Over the course of two weeks, Hart netted 143 votes compared to Miller-Meeks’ 102, closing the gap to today’s six-point margin. Hart’s largest gains were in Muscatine (net 10), Clinton (8) and Scott counties (105). Miller-Meeks’ largest gains were in Henry (net 5), Clinton (6) and Scott (79) counties.
On Monday morning, the Scott County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to certify the recount results despite an unresolved issue involving 131 absentee ballots.
Given the single-digit margin and discrepancy in Scott County, legal challenges are expected but have yet to be announced.
By Elizabeth Meyer
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