Rita Hart to challenge 2nd District election results

After a recount in all 24 counties in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District and the state canvassing boards certifying Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks as the winner with a six-vote lead, Rita Hart plans to challenge the results through legal action in the House Committee on Administration.


Katie Goodale

Rita Hart, Democratic candidate for Iowa’s Second Congressional District, speaks to supporters at Yotopia in Iowa City on Sunday.

Lauren White, Politics Reporter

Democrat Rita Hart announced Wednesday that she will challenge the results of a district-wide recount for Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District race, which put her six votes behind Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks.

In a Wednesday press release, the Hart campaign said it will file a petition with the House Committee on Administration under the Federal Contested Elections Act, which allows candidates for the House to contest the results of elections.

Under Iowa code, a legal challenge would need to be resolved by a judicial panel by Dec. 8. Contesting the election with the House of Representatives provides more time for the votes to be reviewed, the press release said.

“With a margin this small, it is critical that we take this next step to ensure Iowans’ ballots that were legally cast are counted,” Hart campaign manager Zach Meunier said in the press release. “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.”

Errors that occurred earlier in November in Jasper and Lucas counties contributed to the campaign’s wishes for legal action. Additionally, most counties used a machine tabulation for the recount, and the press release said that may have left out valid undervotes and overvotes that the machines did not recognize.

“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,” the release said.

Earlier this week, the Associated Press announced that they would not be calling a winner for this race until any legal proceedings are complete. The Iowa Secretary of State certified the results on Nov. 30.

The Hart campaign called on Miller-Meeks to support and follow through with the legal action.

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate released a statement Wednesday defending the state’s recount and saying the House should not change the results.

“A bipartisan and transparent recount process in all 24 counties of the Second Congressional District confirmed Iowans elected Mariannette Miller-Meeks. Under Iowa law the deadline to contest the election is today,” Pate wrote. “Iowans made their voices heard in record numbers, and in the event of a contested election they deserve to have the contest process decided by Iowa judges. The will of Iowa voters should not be overturned by partisan Washington, D.C. politicians.”

Rylee Wilson contributed to this report