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Winner In Iowa's 2nd Congressional District Won't Be Officially Declared Until November 30th

Candidates Rita Hart, D - Wheatland, and Iowa Sen. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R - Ottumwa, answered questions from reporters and discussed their platforms, concerns and future plans. David Yepsen, host of Iowa Press on Iowa PBS, moderated the debate.
Iowa PBS
The race for Iowa's 2nd Congressional District has been called one of the closest in the country and additional recounts are likely before the state certifies the results.

The race for Iowa’s 2ndCongressional District remains too close to call, but Republican state Sen. Mariannette Miller-Meeks is claiming victory anyway. As of just after midnight on Tuesday, the state’s preliminary tally of results showed her leading by a mere 47 votes in what has been called one of the closest races in the country.

In a statement Tuesday night, Miller-Meeks thanked her competitor, former Democratic state Sen. Rita Hart, and called the election over.

“I express to the voters my heartfelt gratitude and acknowledge Rita Hart’s grace and positive demeanor during this campaign,” Miller-Meeks’ statement reads. “The election is over, and it is time to move forward together and focus on the priorities that will best serve Iowans.”

Regardless of candidates’ assertions, the incredibly close race for the 2nd Congressional District won’t be officially settled until Nov. 30, when state leaders canvass the votes.

While the state’s 99 counties completed their canvass of votes on Monday and Tuesday of this week, Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate told reporters Tuesday that winners are never officially declared until the state certifies the results.

“We’re all pretty good at observing what’s going, how the counts are moving. And I’m sure that the media will report who’s the lead. But as far as certifying and declaring, it’ll be until November 30th,” Pate said. “That’s always the way it is. We don’t…don’t declare a winner until we finish and do our certification on the 30th.”

The Associated Press has said it won’t declare a winner in the race until after the state canvass.

Hart’s campaign pushed back on Miller-Meeks’ claim of victory, noting that the margin may continue to shift, pending at least one more recount in the district.

“As we have said repeatedly, it is critical that Iowans’ voices are heard and the votes are accurately counted. The vote totals in this race continue to fluctuate, and both Iowa officials and independent news organizations have made it clear that the race is too close to call,” reads a statement from Hart’s campaign manager Zach Meunier. “Iowa is a state that values election integrity and Mariannette Miller-Meeks’ campaign’s attempts to usurp this process undermines that integrity.”

Lucas County is slated to conduct a county-wide machine recount on Thursday after the auditor detected human error in the initial tally on Monday. Before the error was identified, Hart held a slim lead in the race, but after it was corrected that edge gave way.

Election workers identified a separate instance of human error last week in Jasper County. Before that error was spotted, Miller-Meeks was in the lead, but lost her edge to Hart after the tally was corrected.

If the Lucas County recount yields a different result, that could affect the margin. Additionally, candidates have three days after a county’s canvass to request their own recount.

Due to the human errors identified in multiple counties, the narrow margin in the race and the high profile nature of the open congressional seat, recounts in additional counties seem all but certain.

Kate Payne was an Iowa City-based Reporter