Senate Democratic Leader Zach Wahls says now that Democrat Rita Hart has conceded Iowa’s second congressional district race to Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks, disparities exposed by the recount in that race can be addressed.
“I think the time is right, for a leadership bill, for Democrats and Republicans to come together to make some bipartisan changes to how recount elections are handled in Iowa,” says Wahls, who is from Coralville, which is in the second congressional district.
Two weeks ago, Hart dropped her request for a U.S. House review of the contest. Miller-Meeks finished six votes ahead of Hart in November’s recount of the 400,000 ballots cast in the second congressional district’s 24 counties. Scott County barely competed its recount in time and Wahls says priority one should be letting counties have more than three members on a recount board.
“Currently, they don’t have that ability, but for large sized counties, you want to have that ability to have more people involved in the recount process,” Wahls says.
Hart’s campaign had argued there were at least 22 legally cast ballots that were not counted in the second district race. Wahls is recommending that future recount boards be allowed to review all ballots cast, not just the ballots that were included in the initial count, plus Wahls says legislators should get rid of the early December deadline for a panel of judges to complete any requested review of a recount.
“Instead we should give those (judges) the amount of time that is necessary for them to finish their work,” Wahls says. “We shouldn’t be forcing them to try and conclude by an arbitrary deadline.”
Hart says a handful of days were not a sufficient amount of time for a panel of judges to oversee a review of 400,000 ballots in her second district contest.
The top Republican in the Iowa House says there are discussions underway that may yield a bipartisan agreement on technical changes in Iowa election law, but it’s unclear whether those changes will address recounts.