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Hart Vows to Fight On After Iowa Republican Presses House to Toss Challenge

January 22, 2021 by Dan McCue
Republican State Sen. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (left) and Democrat Rita Hart (right) are facing off in a nail-biter to represent Iowa's 2nd Congressional District. As it stands now, the race could be decided by fewer than 10 votes.

WASHINGTON – Rita Hart is vowing to continue her fight to have every vote counted in the nail-biter of a race in Iowa’s 2nd District in which she trails by just six votes.

On Thursday, Hart’s opponent, Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Iowa, asked Congress to dismiss a petition from the Democrat in which she appealed the results of the election directly to the House.

When it filed the petition in December, Hart’s campaign stated they were bypassing the in-state legal review as there was not enough time to properly review the votes that were left out.

Iowa’s state canvassing board certified the results of the 2nd District race in November, giving Miller-Meeks a six-vote edge over Democrat Rita Hart out of almost 400,000 cast.

Hart maintains 22 votes were incorrectly left out of the count and were not included when the election was recounted.

The House Administration Committee has yet to act on Hart’s request. If it decides to look into the matter, the results of the race could be decided by majority vote in the House.

In the meantime, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has provisionally seated Miller-Meeks along with the rest of the members and members-elect of the 117th Congress.

A spokesperson for Pelosi said at the time that the review of Iowa’s election results will continue and could affect her status.

Miller-Meeks resigned from her seat in Iowa Senate District 41 in order to take her place in Congress.

She was first elected to the state Senate in 2018 and had two years remaining on her four-year term. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has set a Jan. 26 special election to fill the vacancy.

Miller-Meeks filing on Thursday formally asked the House to leave the results as they currently are.

“The precedents of the House, going back a century or more, require contestants to avail themselves of every single remedy they have under state law before they go to Congress,” wrote Alan Ostergren, an attorney for Miller-Meeks, in the filing.

Ostergren went on to accuse Hart of going to the House because she knew her appeal would not stand up to scrutiny in the in-state process.

Hart responded Thursday afternoon.

“As I have said from the beginning of this entire process, nothing is more important than ensuring every Iowan has their vote counted,” she said. “But at this moment we know 22 voters in Iowa’s Second Congressional District still have not had their legally-cast votes counted and thousands of other voters have not had their ballots examined, which is why I filed a contest in the House to ensure these voters are not left disenfranchised.”

“Mariannette Miller-Meeks herself has acknowledged that there are votes yet to be counted, which makes her attempt to stop votes from being counted even more disappointing,” Hart continued. “It is crucial to me that this bipartisan review by the U.S. House is fair, and I hope our leaders will move swiftly to address this contest and ensure all votes are counted. Iowans deserve to know that the candidate who earned the most votes represents them and after making sure all ballots are counted, it will be clear that I have won this election.”

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