2nd District race awaits Lucas County recount Thursday

By: - November 11, 2020 5:20 pm

A voter at Roosevelt High School puts her ballot into the machine on Election Day, Nov. 3, 2020. (Photo by Linh Ta/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District race remained unsettled Wednesday as Lucas County officials prepared for a post-mistake recount. 

Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks remained in the lead by 47 votes, according to the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office tally at 3 p.m. Wednesday. 

On Tuesday, Miller-Meeks, via Twitter, claimed victory over Democrat Rita Hart for the second time without a final result. She first claimed she won on election night, before Democrat Rita Hart took the lead after Jasper County corrected a reporting error in its results. Later, Lucas County discovered it had failed to report one precinct’s vote, prompting a recount that will be performed beginning Thursday. 

“I express to the voters my heartfelt gratitude and acknowledge Rita Hart’s grace and positive demeanor during this campaign,” Miller-Meeks wrote on Twitter. “The election is over, and it is time to move forward together and focus on the priorities that will best serve Iowans!”

Hart said the election is not over and votes should be confirmed carefully.

Hart spokesman Zach Meunier released this statement late Tuesday: 

 “As we have said repeatedly, it is critical that Iowans’ voices are heard and the votes are accurately counted,” Meunier said. “The vote totals in this race continue to fluctuate, and both Iowa officials and independent news organizations have made it clear that the race is too close to call.

“Iowa is a state that values election integrity and Mariannette Miller-Meeks’ campaign’s attempts to usurp this process undermines that integrity,” Meunier said. “We appreciate the hard work of our poll workers and election officials to accurately count all legal ballots and the votes, and are confident by the end of this process that Rita Hart will be the next congresswoman from Iowa’s 2nd District.”

On Wednesday afternoon, Miller-Meeks led the race, 196,862 votes to 196,815. Kevin Hall, spokesman for Secretary of State Paul Pate, said recount requests must be made to individual counties within three days of vote certification. That would mean by the end of this week generally. 

There was no word of further recount requests Wednesday. Hart’s campaign did not immediately return an email seeking comment. 

The New York Times called the 2nd District race one of the closest in the nation. Other states still deciding congressional races are Alaska, California, Illinois, New York, North Carolina and Utah. 

Hart and Miller-Meeks battled each other on climate change, health care and other issues during the campaign. Hart is a former state senator and former teacher; Miller-Meeks is a military veteran and ophthalmologist who currently is a state senator. They are running to replace retiring Democratic Congressman Dave Loebsack in a district representing southeastern Iowa.

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Perry Beeman
Perry Beeman

Perry Beeman has nearly 40 years of experience in Iowa journalism and has won national awards for environmental and business writing. He has written for The Des Moines Register and the Business Record, where he also served as managing editor. He also is former editorial director of Grinnell College. He co-authored the recently published book, "The $80 Billion Gamble," which details the lottery-rigging case of Eddie Tipton.