DES MOINES, Iowa – A corrected error in Lucas County gives State Senator Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Ottumwa, a razor-thin lead over former State Senator Rita Hart, D-Wheatland, in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District race.
Last week, a discrepancy found in Jasper County gave Hart a 162 vote lead after Miller-Meeks led by 282 votes on Election Night.
Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate ordered an audit of unofficial election results in one Lucas County precinct following an error in the unofficial reporting of results by the Lucas County Auditor’s office. He also requested a countywide recount of all results.
While preparing for canvass of results, Lucas County Auditor Julie Masters discovered the Russell precinct’s totals were not included in the unofficial results. The county’s system included the original test data, not the election night results. The error was corrected and new totals were added to the statewide results.
Currently, Miller-Meeks leads Hart by 50 votes – 49.92 percent (196,823) to 49.90 percent (196,773).
“The integrity of Iowa’s elections is my top priority and we are taking all the necessary steps to ensure the vote count is accurate,” Pate said during a press conference on Tuesday morning. “Following last week’s data entry error in Jasper County, my office asked all 99 county auditors to double-check their results. These human errors are unfortunate and frustrating, but the system is working. We have voter ID, paper ballots, post-election audits and a paper trail to protect the sanctity of the vote.”
Masters agreed to conduct a recount of all results.
“Monday afternoon it was determined the results of one precinct in Lucas County was not reported on election night. Fortunately, we have processes in place in Iowa that allowed me to catch the error and correct it before certifying results,” she said.
Election night results are always unofficial. The numbers are not finalized until after counties conduct post-election audits and canvasses, and the numbers are certified on a statewide basis at the end of November. Every county conducted post-election audits in randomly selected precincts to help ensure the integrity of the vote and reviews data from each precinct before the canvass of the votes.
Iowa does not have an automatic recount procedure, but a candidate can request it. If the margin of victory is fifty votes or one percent of the total number of votes cast (whichever is greater) the state will cover the cost of the recount, otherwise, the candidate has to pay. A partial recount can also be requested.