Living in Society

Dusty Books

Lake Macbride State Park, Dec. 2, 2020.

Wednesday was discovering thick layers of dust on shelved books in my writing room. A long stream of cobwebs wove its way along the top shelf of one side, through 15 toy trucks collected during my transportation career. To get any focused writing done, of the kind an autobiography represents, the books must be rearranged for quick reference… and dusted.

With all of that I managed a walk on the trail.

I’ve been writing about the closest congressional race in the country here in my congressional district. Yesterday Rita Hart’s campaign identified next steps after the results of the election were certified on Monday. She lost by six votes. Here is the unedited press release for readers as I get back to work planning 2021.

Make it a great day!

Rita Hart Announces Next Steps to Ensure All Iowans’ Votes Are Counted, Calls on Miller-Meeks to Join Effort

WHEATLAND, IOWA — Today, Rita Hart announced plans to challenge the latest vote totals in Iowa’s Second Congressional District, reflecting the need to count all votes cast in the Second District, including legally cast ballots that were not considered in the state recount process, which far outnumber the number of ballots needed to change the outcome of the election. Additionally, given the short six day timeline allotted for a state elections contest in Iowa and the volume of ballots left to be examined across 24 counties, Rita Hart plans to file a petition with the House Committee on Administration under the Federal Contested Elections Act, a decision that allows for enough time for all legally cast ballots to be considered, ensuring Iowans’ votes are accurately counted.

Since Election Day, significant errors in the counting process have led to confusion over whom Iowans in the Second District elected to represent them:

  • On November 6, Secretary of State Paul Pate announced a significant over-reporting error in Jasper County, triggering a county-wide recount. 
  • Then, on November 10, Pate announced yet another reporting error, this time involving under-reported votes in Lucas County. 
  • On November 23, the recount board in Jasper County conducted a machine recount that netted 9 votes for Rita Hart. However, at the urging of the Miller-Meeks campaign, the recount board conducted yet another recount on November 25 that netted just one vote for Rita.
  • Many counties did not fully review ballots to identify valid votes that the machines did not recognize, in part because of the time and burden that would have been required for such a thorough count.

Once the initial district-wide canvass was completed on November 12, the gap between the two candidates was 47 votes. After the state recount process, the margin has narrowed further to just 6 votes — making this the closest federal race since 1984. More Iowans’ votes were counted after the state recount process, but time constraints and a lack of standard rules prevented all votes from being counted. The Federal Contested Elections Act petition will ensure that more Iowans’ votes are counted.

“When the recount process began more than two weeks ago, Rita Hart was down by 47 votes. Since then, more Iowans’ ballots have been counted and Rita has continuously gained ground, narrowing the gap to a mere 6 votes. While that recount considered more votes, limitations in Iowa law mean there are more legally cast votes left to be counted. With a margin this small, it is critical that we take this next step to ensure Iowans’ ballots that were legally cast are counted. In the weeks to come, we will file a petition with the House Committee on Administration requesting that these votes be counted, and we hope that Mariannette Miller-Meeks will join us in working to ensure that every Iowans’ voice is heard,” said Rita Hart for Iowa Campaign Manager Zach Meunier. 

The Associated Press announced earlier this week that it will not declare a winner in the race until all legal options are exhausted.

On background:

  • According to Iowa law, a state election challenge must be completed by December 8, 2020. That tight timeline would not allow for adequate time in which to examine the ballots and evidence needed to ensure all Iowans’ votes are accurately counted in this historically close election.
  • Iowa law prohibits ballots not counting in the initial canvass from being considered in a recount. As a result, there are legally cast ballots that have yet to be counted, far exceeding the current 6 vote margin in this race. These ballots that still have not been counted include ballots cast by military members serving overseas, ballots that were not counted on Election Night despite being legally cast, and thousands of unexamined overvotes and undervotes.
  • It is unacceptable that ballots in an election this close would go uncounted, particularly those belonging to active-duty service members overseas.