Democrat Hart seeks a recount in the 2nd Congressional District

Rita Hart speaking with educators and community members at the Iowa City Public Library. Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2018. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

Democrat Rita Hart is seeking a recount of all votes in race for the open seat in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District, her campaign announced on Thursday morning.

“With so much at stake in this election and such a slim margin separating the candidates, Iowans deserve to know categorically that their ballots have been accurately counted,” Hart’s campaign manager Zach Meunier said in a written statement. “Over the last several days, multiple consequential errors have materialized in this race that have serious implications for the district’s future representation.”

Hart trailed her Republican opponent Mariannette Miller-Meeks by 282 votes in the unofficial totals reported to the Iowa Secretary of State on election night by the auditor’s offices in the district’s 24 counties. But three days later, Jasper County Auditor Dennis Parrott and Secretary of State Paul Pate held a news conference to announce the results from a precinct in Jasper County had been misreported.

After the results from that precinct were corrected, Hart led Miller-Meeks in the district by 152 votes. A machine recount of all Jasper County’s votes and a hand recount of the precinct which was misreported confirmed that lead.

But on Monday night, the Lucas County Auditor’s Office updated its vote totals, giving the lead in the district to Miller-Meeks. Auditor Julie Masters held a news conference with Secretary Pate on Tuesday to explain that a failure to clear all the data from a pre-election test of the auditor’s office computer system led to the results of one precinct being misreported.

On Tuesday night, Miller-Meeks declared victory in the race. The Hart campaign issued a statement disputing that claim.

At Pate’s direction, Lucas County will conduct a machine recount of the entire county’s votes, as well as a hand recount of the votes in the originally misreported precinct, starting on Thursday morning.

On Thursday at 9 a.m., the unofficial results on the Secretary of State’s election site had Miller-Meeks leading in the congressional district by 47 votes.

“Given the errors found in Jasper and Lucas counties at the eleventh hour, we are moving forward today with requests for a complete recount of each precinct in the Second Congressional District to make sure all results have been reported accurately,” Meunier said in his statement. “Anything less will perpetuate doubt around this election.”

All counties in Iowa were required to certify their election results by Tuesday, and submit them to the Secretary of State’s Office by Nov. 16. Those results can be amended if errors are detected. Then Pate’s officer will review those results.

The results of the Nov. 3 election will not be considered official until Pate certifies them on Nov. 30.