Living in Society

Count All the Votes

Rita Hart

Provisional Congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks accused Rita Hart of choosing politics over the law in pursuit of an appeal to the certified results of the 2020 general election for Congress. That is ridiculous.

The law that covers the close race is the Federal Contested Election Act of 1969, and both candidates have been complying with it. It’s a given that this election contest is political. It’s about a close political election for Pete’s sake.

Rita Hart’s case hasn’t changed since she made the appeal: There are legally cast votes not counted. Count every vote.

The reason Miller-Meeks makes an accusation is to divert our attention from due process. She is justifiably concerned about losing her provisional seat if Rita Hart wins the appeal and replaces her in the Congress to represent Iowa’s Second Congressional District. If the U.S. House Administration Committee finds legally cast votes were not counted, as Hart did, and those votes show Hart won the election, she should be sworn into office. Just because there is hysterical Republican fear doesn’t mean the challenge should be withdrawn, or is somehow suspect.

The election was close. While the governor signed certification of the six-vote win for Miller-Meeks, there was no mandate from the electorate. She did not have a plurality. Now that Miller-Meeks’ call for dismissal of Hart’s appeal was rejected by the committee, the process should continue until its natural end. The next deadline is Monday, March 22, when briefs are due to the committee.

Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst issued a joint statement in which they assert Hart’s appeal is not legitimate. Here it is, but it is snake oil. Don’t swallow it!

Both the original vote count and recount confirmed Mariannette Miller-Meeks won her election. There are legal avenues through which candidates can litigate election disputes if they believe there are specific election irregularities. Rita Hart declined to take legitimate legal action in Iowa courts and instead chose to appeal to Washington partisans who should have no say in who represents Iowans. That’s an insult to Iowa voters and our nonpartisan election process. We are confident in the fairness and accuracy of Iowa’s election system.

In addition to Iowa’s U.S. Senators, a cast of the usual characters has been speaking on Miller-Meeks’ behalf. Among those who made public statements are Paul Pate, Kim Reynolds, Randy Feenstra, Tom Cotton, and former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley. Miller-Meeks took her case to FOX News chat hosts Bret Baier and Laura Ingraham recently. The Republican outrage is universal.

Miller-Meeks also made a well-publicized trip to the U.S. – Mexico border to decry a “crisis” there. Not so fast!

Miller-Meeks told Radio Iowa on Monday that people should be outraged. I’ll tell you who has no reason to be outraged by Rita Hart’s pursuit of an appeal, it’s the half of the electorate who voted for Hart.

The Republican noise machine has been refined in recent years to dissemble, distract and mislead citizens when they don’t like what they see in society. The fact remains Miller-Meeks’ election was certified by the Iowa Governor as winning by six votes. Even if the House Administration Committee finds Hart won and flips the election result, the main point here is the election was exceedingly close. Neither Hart nor Miller-Meeks should be doing much celebrating.

I’d like to see Hart seated in the Congress. I have also been around Iowa politics long enough to realize a close election can easily turn the electorate that produced it. It could go either way.

In Marc Elias, Rita Hart hired one of the best attorneys in the country to represent her during the appeal. Democrats who seek to put Hart in the Congress for more than the remainder of the current term should be focusing attention on the 2022 general election. I predict that election won’t be close.

Click here for a news update from the March 20, 2021 Iowa City Press Citizen.