New Iowa rep asking House to dismiss contest in 6-vote race

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Republican U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Iowa will ask the U.S. House to dismiss an election contest filed by her Democratic challenger that argues the 6-vote race was wrongly decided.

Miller-Meeks will argue in a filing to the House that lawmakers shouldn’t consider Rita Hart’s appeal because Hart did not contest the outcome under Iowa law, the Des Moines Register reported.

An attorney for Miller-Meeks argues that House precedents going back a century “require contestants to avail themselves of every single remedy before they go to Congress.” The filing was expected to be delivered to the House clerk Thursday.

After a recount, Iowa’s canvassing board certified Miller-Meeks as the vote winner in Iowa’s 2nd District with a tally of 196,964 to 196,958 — the closest congressional race nationwide in decades.

Hart declined to challenge the result under Iowa law, saying it did not allow enough time to conduct additional recount proceedings. The law would have required a panel of judges to rule on challenges within days.

Instead, Hart filed a contest in December directly to the House under a 1969 law that spells out how congressional candidates can challenge elections that they believe were marred by serious irregularities.

Hart’s attorneys claim they have identified 22 votes that were wrongly excluded due to errors, including 18 for Hart that would change the outcome if counted. They also want the House to examine thousands of ballots marked by machines as undervotes and overvotes that weren’t visually inspected during the recount.

The House decided earlier this month to provisionally swear in Miller-Meeks, pending the outcome of Hart’s challenge. The two candidates had been competing to replace seven-term Democratic Rep. Dave Loebsack in the southeastern Iowa district that has trended Republican in recent years.

The House Administration Committee will determine how to proceed, including whether to investigate or dismiss the case. It plans to closely review filings from both campaigns, as required by law.