Miller-Meeks maintains 47-vote lead in 2nd Congressional District after Lucas County recounts

Illustration by Jordan Sellergren

A machine recount of all the votes in Lucas County on Thursday, and a hand recount of the ballots from the precinct that covers the city of Russell on Friday, confirmed the amended vote totals for the Nov. 3 election post by the Lucas County Auditor’s Office on Monday night.

The votes in the Russell precinct had originally been misreported, because pre-test data had not be properly cleared from the auditor’s office’s computer system, Auditor Julie Masters said at a news conference on Tuesday.

At the direction of Secretary of State Paul Pate, Masters’ office undertook the machine and hand recounts.

“Four volunteers — three wearing masks and one largely unmasked but wearing a rubber guard on her thumb to prevent potential paper cuts and stop ballots from slipping — flipped through ballots one by one, double checking the results for each race,” according to the Des Moines Register’s Stephen Gruber-Miller, who was one of the members of the media observing Friday’s hand recount.

Small errors are common in every election, but the recount in Lucas County attracted a great deal of attention because only a few dozen votes separate the two candidates for the open seat in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District.

The final results of the recount of the precincts were 217 votes for Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks, 54 votes for Democrat Rita Hart and 30 ballots with no choice selected in the race.

The results mean that Miller-Meeks retains a 47-vote lead in the 2nd Congressional District in the unofficial vote tally posted by the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office.

The Hart campaign announced on Thursday it was asking for a recount of all votes in all the congressional district’s 24 counties.

Miller-Meeks declared victory in the district on Tuesday. It was the second time she had done so. Miller-Meeks led in the unofficial vote total on election night — the first time she declared victory — but two days later, Jasper County Auditor Dennis Parrott discovered the vote totals for one of his county’s precincts had been misreported.

When that error was corrected, Hart had a 152-vote lead in the district, which lasted until Monday night when Lucas County updated its totals.

The vote totals in the 2nd District, and in all the other races in Nov. 3 election, remain unofficial until the Secretary of State certifies them on Nov. 30.