Democrat Iowa House Candidate Asks House to Overthrow State-Certified Election Results

December 22, 2020 Updated: December 22, 2020

Democratic congressional candidate Rita Hart filed a notice of contest Tuesday asserting she won a contested race for a U.S. House seat representing Iowa.

Hart ran for the seat representing Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District. Iowa’s canvassing board certified Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks as the winner by 6 votes late last month.

In the new filing, Hart alleges 22 legally cast votes were not counted. If they were, she would have won.

Those include 9 mail ballots in Marion County that were “inexplicably” not counted, 2 ballots cast curbside by disabled voters in Scott County, and 5 mail-in ballots cast by voters in Johnson and Scott counties that were rejected for not being “properly sealed,” according to Hart.

The 176-page filing asks the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives for a full review of the race.

“Everyone has acknowledged that there are uncounted votes left and after reviewing those ballots and making sure they are counted, it will be clear that I have won this election. It is crucial to me to make sure that this bipartisan review by the U.S. House is fair. Iowans deserve to know that the candidate who earned the most votes is seated. I am that candidate,” Hart said in a statement.

Hart said recently she wouldn’t challenge the certification of the race in state courts. She is turning to a challenge allowed under the Federal Contested Elections Act. If the House agrees to take up the challenge, it will conduct an investigation into the race and determine who won.

Representing Hart is Marc Elias, a Perkins Coie attorney who has repeatedly criticized President Donald Trump’s challenges to election results.

Epoch Times Photo
Mariannette Miller-Meeks answers a question during a debate in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Oct. 8, 2020. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette via AP)

In a video statement on Tuesday, Miller-Meeks called her opponent’s move “shameful.”

“Every vote has been counted under Iowa law and recounted under Iowa law,” she said. “Unfortunately, Rita Hart now wants Washington politicians to override the will of Iowa voters and disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of Iowa voters.”

Miller-Meeks was certified the winner of a race to replace retiring Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa).

Republican members of Congress have derided the objection.

“Rita Hart lost, period. Rather than take any grievances to the court system (which would be the appropriate venue), Hart is going directly to Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi to try to overturn the will of the people of Iowa,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said in a recent statement.

Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) sent a letter to Pelosi and other members of Congress last week, urging them to reject Hart’s contest of election results.

“Ms. Hart is asking the House of Representatives to create a dangerous precedent … Iowans rightly have confidence in the integrity of our state’s election officials and process. Any action to bypass or overturn a fair election conducted according to Iowa law would not be well received by the citizens of our state and would result in a cloud over the results of such efforts,” the delegation, which included Reps.-elect Ashley Hinson (R-Iowa) and Randy Feenstra (R-Iowa) wrote.

House Democrats are considering forming a panel to decide whether to seat Miller-Meeks and the winner in a contested election between Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-N.Y.) and former Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-N.Y.).

According to the nonpartisan Congressional Research, from 1933 to 2009, the House has considered 107 contested election cases. The vast majority were resolved in favor of the member or member-elect whose win was challenged. In at least three cases, the House ultimately seated the person who challenged the results.

Since the enactment of the Federal Contested Elections Act of 1969, most cases have been dismissed due to failure by the contestant to sustain the burden of proof necessary to overcome a motion to dismiss.

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