The race for the open seat in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District was one of the tightest House races in recent memory. In the weeks following the Nov. 3 election, the lead changed hands several times in a statewide recount until finally the Republican candidate, Mariannette Miller-Meeks, was declared the winner. She had defeated her Democratic opponent, Rita Hart, by six votes, and the state certified the results on Nov. 30.
“Hart’s team alleges that there are 22 ballots that should have been counted in the election and that if they had, she would have won by nine votes. Hart’s campaign has cited examples including five absentee ballots cast in her favor that were not counted because they were not properly sealed,” according to NPR.
Rather than going through traditional channels, which would have meant an appeal through Iowa’s court system, Hart’s team went on to file a “Notice of Contest” with the U.S. House Administrative Committee seeking to overturn the results.
The House committee voted along party lines to review Hart’s challenge and “attorneys for the two candidates submitted initial legal briefs … on Monday. In a terse 23-page brief, Miller-Meeks’ counsel broadly denied Hart’s claims and said the burden was on Hart to prove that a state-certified election should be overturned,” NPR reported.
Miller-Meeks was provisionally sworn in in January.
Asked about this case at a press conference, Pelosi replied, “If I wanted to be unfair, I wouldn’t have seated the Republican from Iowa, because that was my right on the opening day. I would have just said, ‘You’re not seated,’ and that would have been my right as Speaker to do.”
Actually, the Speaker’s job is to seat the lawmakers whom the states have certified as the winners.
This woman seems to lack any sense of right and wrong.
Speaker Pelosi says it is her “right as Speaker” to seat or unseat any member of Congress she wants even if the election is certified
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) March 25, 2021
Reportedly, even many House Democrats are balking at the thought of overturning a state-certified election.
Losing a House election by six votes is painful for Democrats. But overturning it in the House would be even more painful for America. Just because a majority can, does not mean a majority should. https://t.co/pXaOYBIMue
— Rep. Dean Phillips 🇺🇸 (@RepDeanPhillips) March 22, 2021
More House Democrats are expressing concern over potentially having to vote later this year on whether to overturn a Republican congresswoman’s razor-thin victory in Iowa.
The House Administration Committee opted on party lines earlier this month to review a challenge from Democratic candidate Rita Hart disputing her loss by six votes to GOP Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks. The Iowa State Board of Canvassers certified Ms. Miller-Meeks’s narrow win following a recount of the full district. But the legal team of Ms. Hart, who is challenging the results under the Federal Contested Elections Act, said there are 22 valid ballots that were never counted, which could reverse the outcome.
Some House Democrats have recently shared their concerns with Democratic leaders over having to potentially vote to overturn a state-certified election in Iowa and conveyed to them that they might not have enough votes to prevail, according to lawmakers and aides. Democrats currently hold a narrow 219-211 majority and can lose no more than three votes on measures opposed by all Republicans.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) said Thursday it was Ms. Hart’s right to contest her narrow loss.
“If you had lost a race by six votes, wouldn’t you like to say ‘there must be some way that we can count this?’” she said to reporters. “We are obligated under federal law to follow the process and the facts.”
Last month, Politico reported that Hart “has made the experiences of these voters central to her post-campaign messaging: They have taped videos and called into virtual campaign events to express their disappointment at being disenfranchised. One voter accidentally ripped her ballot envelope while sealing it but was told it would count anyway. Another received an absentee ballot that was already sealed and was told to reopen it and then tape it shut.”
Hart’s lead attorney is Marc Elias of the Perkins, Coie law firm in Washington, D.C. If his name sounds familiar, it’s because it was Elias who laundered funds from Hillary Clinton and the DNC through his firm to pay Fusion GPS, an opposition research firm owned by Glenn Simpson, to produce the infamous Steele dossier.
Elias also represented New York Democrat Anthony Brindisi’s recent (and fortunately unsuccessful) effort to overturn his loss to Republican Claudia Tenney in the state’s 22nd Congressional District race. Brindisi conceded to Tenney last month.
Ironically, Elias argued, “In this case, there is reason to believe that voting tabulation machines misread hundreds if not thousands of valid votes as undervotes … and that these tabulation machine errors disproportionately affected Brindisi. … In addition, Oswego County admitted in a sworn statement to this Court that its tabulation machines were not tested and calibrated in the days leading up to the November 3, 2020 General Election as required by state law and necessary to ensure that the counts generated by tabulation machines are accurate.”
Then why was it ridiculous when Trump’s attorneys made the same argument? Obviously, this is a rhetorical question. We know why.
In addition, according to The Washington Times, Elias “led a team of President Biden attorneys successfully fighting Trump challenges in over 50 courts.”
“The last time the House chose to overturn a state-certified election was an acrimonious affair,” Politico reported. “After the 1984 elections, the House Democratic majority refused to seat the Republican challenger to Democratic Rep. Frank McCloskey.”
“A Republican official in Indiana certified the GOP candidate, Richard McIntyre, as the winner, but a recount conducted by Congress found McCloskey won by 4 votes. When the House Democrats voted to seat McCloskey, Republicans stormed out of the chamber in protest.”
It looks like the House might be headed for yet another acrimonious affair.