I wonder what faith will remain in elections after this year. Yesterday, Rita Hart announced that she would avoid Iowa’s process for challenging election results. Instead, Ms. Hart hopes the U.S. House of Representatives will decide our congressional district’s election.
Ms. Hart argues that review by the House is necessary to ensure legal votes are counted, implying that Iowa’s election, canvass, and recount failed to do this. She argues that the recount narrowed Ms. Miller-Meeks’ lead from 48 to 6 votes, ignoring that the largest abnormality, coming from Jasper County, temporarily gave Hart a lead of 162 votes.
Were Ms. Hart to follow state law for challenging this election, Chapter 60 of Iowa code holds that our Supreme Court Chief Justice and four Iowa district court judges will hear Ms. Hart’s arguments. These are judges who understand Iowa election law far better than anyone in Washington. Ms. Hart chose to avoid these judges with particularized understanding of Iowa election laws.
The U.S. Constitution, under Article I, gives the U.S. House the authority to decide who its members are. However, the U.S. House has declared that state certification is strong evidence that the election was carried out honestly and correctly. Iowa certified Ms. Miller-Meeks’ win on November 30th.
Under the Federal Contested Elections Act, Ms. Hart must prove voting irregularities or acts of fraud caused her loss. After a canvass and recount where the Ms. Hart’s assigned representatives oversaw those processes, there is strong evidence that there are no irregularities and definitely no fraud.
One major concern for Iowans should be the precedent set in the contested Indiana election of Richard McIntyre and Frank McCloskey in 1985. In that contest, the U.S. House chose to use its own rules for how to count or reject ballots as opposed to using Indiana’s voting laws. The U.S. House under Speaker Nancy Pelosi could decide to accept votes that do not comply with Iowa’s voting laws.
The House possesses the authority to reject Hart’s request since she failed to exhaust state remedies. They should reject this request. This was what the House chose to do in similar situations, such as Huber v. Ayres and Swanson v. Harrington. For the U.S. House to impose a losing candidate on our congressional district sends a chilling message to voters that their involvement in our election system is only for show and that our voices do not matter.
Reuben Neff, Ottumwa