Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks won the race for the open seat in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District by six votes, according to the Iowa Board of Canvas. The board met on Monday afternoon to certify all the results from the Nov. 3 election.
The State Canvassing Board has officially certified the results of the 2020 general election. We had record turnout of more than 1.7 million voters & 76% participation. The official result in #IA02 is @millermeeks 196,964 to @RitaHartIA 196,958. 6 vote difference. #BeAVoter pic.twitter.com/Rp4f6sHHTi
— Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate (@IowaSOS) November 30, 2020
The race in Iowa’s 2nd District was the closest in the country. In the first reported results on Election Day, Miller-Meeks lead her Democratic opponent Rita Hart by 282 votes. The lead in the unofficial vote total changed twice during the week after the election, as Jasper County and Lucas County corrected results that has initially been misreported.
After Jasper County submitted its revised vote total, Hart took the lead by 163 votes, which shrunk to 152 votes following a recount in the county. But after Lucas County amended its vote totals, Miller-Meeks pulled ahead by 47 votes in the unofficial totals posted by the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office.
Following that, Hart requested a recount of votes in all of the district’s 24 counties. That recount concluded on Saturday, as Clinton County finished recounting its ballots. It gave Miller-Meeks a lead of six votes out of the 413,989 ballots cast in the district.
According to the results certified by the board on Monday, Miller-Meeks received 196,964 votes and Hart received 196,958. Seven hundred and three votes were cast for write-in candidates. There were also 19,189 ballots counted as undervotes, meaning the voter didn’t choose a candidate in the Congressional race, and 175 determined to be overvotes, in which the voter marked the ballot for more than one candidate. Overvotes are not counted for any candidate.
The districtwide recount was not without controversy, as the Scott County Recount Board’s final tally had 131 more absentee ballots than the county auditor’s office originally counted. There was no explanation for the difference.
“No definitive explanation has been given for the ballot discrepancy,” the Quad City Times reported. “However, one plausible explanation, according to [Scott County Auditor Roxanna] Moritz, is that absentee ballots that were to be re-run through a different tabulation machine on election day, after another tabulator broke down, were mistakenly placed in a box of already counted absentee ballots.”
Scott County used a hybrid approach in its recount, combing the hand count of some ballots with a machine recount of the rest.
The Scott County Board of Supervisors voted to certify the recount board totals on Monday morning. The vote was unanimous, even though some of the supervisors said they were troubled by the 131-vote discrepancy.
“Certifying doesn’t mean we are good with this outcome,” Supervisor Ken Croken said before the vote to certify. “It means we would like the process to move forward … expeditiously.”
Following the certification by the state board, the Hart campaign issued a statement saying, “Under Iowa law, this recount process was designed to count ballots that had already been tallied, meaning that additional legal ballots may have yet to be counted. Over the next few days, we will outline our next steps in this process to ensure that all Iowans’ voices are heard.”
Hart has two days to file a legal challenge to the state certification of the votes in the 2nd District. The challenge would be heard by a five-member judicial panel chaired by Chief Justice Susan Christensen of the Iowa Supreme Court.