Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate (R) ordered a hand-count audit and a recount of some results in the race for the state’s 2nd Congressional District, which is currently knotted in a virtual tie.
Pate announced Friday he was ordering the audit and requesting the recount in a Jasper County precinct “following an apparent discrepancy in the numbers.” He said a subsequent investigation found that “a human data entry error” in the Jasper County Auditor’s Office led to “some results being over-reported.”
The audit and recount could determine the results of one of the country’s tightest House races to fill the vacancy of retiring Rep. Dave LoebsackDavid (Dave) Wayne LoebsackDemocrats poised for House gains with boost from Trump-won districts Democrats lead in 3 of 4 Iowa House races: poll House Democrats target Midwestern GOP seats MORE (D). The tally currently shows Democrat Rita Hart ahead of Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks by just 162 votes, out of more than 393,000 votes cast.
“The integrity of Iowa’s elections is my top priority as State Commissioner of Elections,” Pate said. “We have protections in place in Iowa to ensure the integrity of the vote. All elections are conducted on paper ballots. There is a paper trail that allows us to go back and look at all the results if there is a discrepancy. We conduct post-election audits. The system worked and we will make sure all the numbers are accurate.”
“Obviously on election night the Jasper County Auditor’s Office made an election results reporting error. It has since been corrected,” added County Auditor Dennis Parrott (D). “I credit the system of checks and balances that Iowa has that gives auditors time before the county supervisors canvass the vote to catch errors and issues that may have happened on Election Day.”
Miller-Meeks’s campaign told The Des Moines Register that it has “demanded additional information because those unexplained discrepancies have the potential to alter the election outcome. We expect to receive that information immediately.”
Democrats are keen to hold Loebsack’s seat, which was rated a “toss up” by the Cook Political Report and was won by Loebsack in 2018 by more than 12 points. This week’s elections have been disappointing for House Democrats, who were anticipated to gain as many as 15 seats but will almost certainly end up losing members instead. The party will still retain control of the House.
The audit will begin immediately, and the officials said it would be done before the Jasper County canvass of votes on Tuesday. Iowa law says the state pays for a recount if the margin separating two candidates is under 1 percentage point.