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Miller-Meeks Prepares To Take Office In January, Though U.S. House Review Of 2nd Congressional District Results Is Still To Come

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 file
Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks says she's preparing to be sworn in as the next representative for Iowa's 2nd Congressional District. Meanwhile Democrat Rita Hart has announced plans to ask the U.S House to review Miller-Meeks' six vote victory, which state officials have certified.

Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks says she’s gotten every indication she will be sworn in next month to serve as the next representative for Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District. Last month, the bipartisan state Executive Council certified her six vote victory over Democrat Rita Hart, who has since said she’ll appeal to the Democratically-controlled U.S. House to review the results.

In an interview Wednesday, Miller-Meeks told IPR she’s proceeding as if she’ll be seated with the new Congress, though the decision of whether to seat her is ultimately up to the chamber.

“All the indications I have is that I will be sworn in on January 3rd,” Miller-Meeks said. “We think that, you know, all legal votes have been counted. They have been recounted, I've now been certified as the winner. So yes, it's that process of preparing to…to be sworn in on January 3rd, and setting up our district offices, which I think is a very important part.”

Meanwhile, the Hart campaign has disputed that all votes have been counted, arguing that even after a districtwide recount across all 24 southeast Iowa counties, there are thousands of ballots that haven’t been examined by hand for voter intent and may have been misread by counting machines.

Hart said she decided to appeal directly to the Committee on House Administration because she believes the election contest process outlined in state law would not grant enough time to review the thousands of outstanding under- and over votes, as well as ballots that weren’t counted for other reasons.

“After looking into the options available to make sure that all the votes are counted, it’s clear that the state of Iowa’s process does not provide the time necessary to complete a full review of all the votes that were legally cast,” Hart said after announcing her plan. “We can’t have a rushed process that leaves doubt in the voters’ minds.”

Hart has until the end of the month to file her appeal with the U.S. House, which could direct the committee to conduct its own investigation of the results, even examining ballots or conducting a recount.

Miller-Meeks continues to criticize Hart’s plan to petition Congress, questioning why she didn’t appeal to the state first, and saying the race has been certified and should be considered settled. But Miller-Meeks’ criticisms do not extend to President Donald Trump, who has refused to concede in his own race and has spread baseless claims of widespread election fraud.

Department of Homeland Security officials have said there is no evidence the 2020 election was compromised, calling it the “most secure in American history.”

“My opponent and President Trump are pursuing legal avenues that are available to them,” Miller-Meeks said. “But for me, it's important that people know that I have faith in our election system, I have faith in our Iowa laws, I have faith in our Iowa courts.”

Judges across the country have roundly dismissed Trump’s lawsuits, with at times blistering critiques, with one Pennsylvania judge writing of the campaign’s claims, “[i]n the United States of America, this cannot justify the disenfranchisement of a single voter, let alone all the voters of its sixth most populated state."

Miller-Meeks praised Iowa’s local election officials and condemned the death threats that election officials in other states have faced for carrying out their duties amid Trump’s attacks on the nation’s elections, but she stopped short of condemning the president himself.

Meanwhile, polling suggests that while the majority of Americans believe the election results, public trust in the outcomes is eroding, at least among some of the president’s supporters. An NPR / PBS News Hour / Marist survey released Wednesday indicates that a mere 24 percent of Republicans trust that the results of the 2020 election are accurate.

Kate Payne was an Iowa City-based Reporter