Tag Archives: Rita Hart

Iowa Map Enacted

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 10, 2021 — Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) signed the new Iowa redistricting map package, legislation that contained the new US House, state Senate, and state House of Representatives maps. The new congressional plan makes what appear to be minor changes to the state’s four districts, while again crafting a new quartet that would have voted in unison for former President Donald Trump. As is the case on the current map, Trump’s district victory margins featured varying percentages.

The Iowa redistricting system is unique. Some believe the state redistricts through a commission, but that is not the case. Rather, a state legislative committee is tasked with drawing the three-map plans and presenting them to the legislature for final approval. The plans must be submitted as a package, and the legislators may only vote up or down on the whole group, as no amendments to any of the maps are allowed.

The committee also employs a formulaic algorithm to create the districts without regard to political proclivities or deference to incumbents. If three map packages are rejected, the legislature then takes full control of the process.

The adopted package is the second plan iteration. The committee staff first put forth a series of maps that failed to make it through the first state Senate committee of jurisdiction. That congressional map was much different than the ultimately enacted plan. In the first draw, freshman Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Marion/Cedar Rapids) would have been placed in a decidedly Democratic district that would have made her an underdog for re-election in 2022.

It is likely, however, that alone was not the reason for the Senate committee members rejecting the map package. The committee staff created two separate pairings of three incumbent senators apiece, thus dooming the entire package. Once returned, the congressional map plan, using a changed formula, returned to a similar configuration as under the current map.

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IA-2: Hart Concedes;
NM-1: Dems Nominate

Iowa Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks’ (R-Ottumwa)

By Jim Ellis

April 2, 2021 — Former Iowa state senator, Rita Hart (D), withdrew her challenge late Wednesday afternoon, before the House Administration Committee pertaining to Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks’ (R-Ottumwa) six-vote victory in the November election. Also, the New Mexico Democratic State Central Committee met virtually over the past two days in order to choose a congressional nominee to fill the state’s 1st District vacancy. The seat is in special election cycle because Deb Haaland resigned her federal legislative office in order to join the Biden cabinet as Interior Secretary. Details below:

Iowa

In a released statement, IA-2 challenger Hart said, “Despite our best efforts to have every vote counted, the reality is that the toxic campaign of political disinformation to attack this constitutional review of the closest congressional contest in 100 years has effectively silenced the voices of Iowans.”

In actuality, the miniscule victory margin is the first such result of this type since 1984, not in 100 years, when in a similar case the House of Representatives decided in early 1985 that then-Rep. Frank McCloskey (D-IN) was re-elected with a four-vote margin.

The IA-2 result was a point of controversy ever since the new Congress was sworn into office on Jan. 3. Instead of challenging the six-vote margin in the Iowa court system, Hart chose to bring her complaint directly to the House of Representatives. She claimed that Iowa election authorities has not counted 22 legal ballots that would have changed the final outcome. The officials retorted that they rejected the ballots for various reasons of noncompliance with state election laws.

After the body’s internal organization process was completed, the House Administration Committee voted on a 6-3 party line vote to hear Hart’s case. There had been much chatter in the news media and blogosphere during the past two weeks about the Democratic leadership wanting to award the seat to Hart, thus displacing Rep. Miller-Meeks who had been provisionally seated on Jan. 3 pending the outcome of the Hart challenge.

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IA-2 Controversy Heating Up

By Jim Ellis

IA-2 Republican congresswoman, Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks

March 31, 2021 — Iowa Democratic congressional candidate Rita Hart’s 2020 election result challenge has recently attracted significant media attention. With rhetoric sharpening on both sides over Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks’ (R-Ottumwa) state certified six-vote victory, let’s examine where the situation stands.

To review, Miller-Meeks held a 47-vote edge on the original canvass, a total that was reduced to just six votes after the state’s full recount. Miller-Meeks was certified the victor based upon the original final total, and then re-certified post recount. The bipartisan Iowa state canvassing board issued both certifications on unanimous votes.

The losing Democratic nominee, former state senator and 2018 lieutenant governor nominee Hart, filed her challenge directly with the US House instead of turning to the Iowa court system. She claims there are 22 uncounted votes that would change the outcome. The local Iowa election authorities rejected these ballots for various reasons. At the time of commencement for the new Congress, the House seated Miller-Meeks provisionally until the Hart challenge is resolved.

The motion was referred to the House Administration Committee, a panel of six Democrats and three Republicans. California Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose), a close ally of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, is the committee chair. Illinois Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville) is the ranking Republican member. The committee held one hearing on the challenge and agreed on a partisan roll call vote to conduct an investigation and hear her case. The committee has not voted to remove Rep. Miller-Meeks, nor has the case been sent from the committee to the House floor.

Should the complaint come before the full body, and with a 6-3 Democratic majority on the Administration Committee, chances are strong that the Hart case will advance, the Democratic leadership may have a difficult time in obtaining the votes to remove Miller-Meeks.

They certainly would face a united Republican conference, meaning 211 votes assuming that Miller-Meeks would not be allowed to vote on her own seating. If they move after the April 24 Louisiana special election where a double-Democratic runoff assures them of gaining an extra seat and increasing the majority conference total to 220, they could afford to lose no more than four Democratic votes in order to successfully take the seat from Miller-Meeks and award it to Hart.

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Will Miller-Meeks’ 6-Vote Win Stand?

By Jim Ellis

IA-2 Republican congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks

March 12, 2021 — Yesterday, the House Administration Committee met virtually to consider Iowa Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks’ (R-Ottumwa) motion to dismiss the Federal Contested Elections Act challenge from Democrat Rita Hart in relation to the state certified results of the 2020 congressional election in Iowa’s 2nd District. The committee voted 6-3 on partisan lines to postpone the dismissal action.

To review, Rep. Miller-Meeks’ victory margin is only six votes of 394,800 ballots cast. Hart is challenging the results before the House Administration Committee claiming that 22 ballots, enough to overturn the final result, were legal but not counted.

Yesterday’s hearing was procedural in that committee chair Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) moved to postpone hearing the dismissal motion in order for the members to fully consider Hart’s argument of contestant. Rep. Lofgren indicated that both the Iowa Republican and Democratic Parties, along with Iowa election officials, will be sent identical questionnaires to fully investigate the matter. This means we can expect a much longer process to fully examine the contested ballots, allow testimony, and review the Iowa recount process.

Committee Minority Ranking Member Rodney Davis (R-IL) countered, indicating that the Iowa officials have twice counted the votes and, as committee member Bryan Steil (R-WI) reported, recount boards in all 24 counties that form the 2nd District – three member panels comprised of a Miller-Meeks’ appointed member, a Hart appointed member, and a county appointed member – all agreed on the final totals in each local entity.

Davis further explained to the committee members and listening audience that Hart, a former Iowa state senator and 2018 nominee for lieutenant governor, had eschewed the available legal process, which is to petition the Iowa court system. Davis said he concludes Hart made the decision to come directly to the House because she knew the courts would reject her legal arguments.

The Iowa recount process changed the original totals. The first reported outcome revealed a 44-vote Miller-Meeks margin. It then dropped to 30 votes during the recount and Scott County (Davenport), the district’s largest entity, reduced the number even further culminating in the current six-vote final result that the Iowa secretary of state certified as official, with which the bipartisan Iowa Election Canvass Board unanimously concurred. On Jan. 3rd, the House voted to provisionally seat Miller-Meeks until the Hart challenge is resolved.

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NY-22 Vote on Brink of Certification

By Jim Ellis

Former New York Rep. Claudia Tenney (R)

Feb. 2, 2021 — After being suspended in political limbo for three months after Upstate New York voters cast their ballots, it appears that former Rep. Claudia Tenney (R) is on the threshold of being declared the winner of the disputed NY-22 contest.

State Supreme Court of Oswego County Justice Scott DelConte issued his ruling late Friday after weeks of hearings regarding disputes over more than 1,000 contested ballots and 2,100-plus individuals who registered to vote in a timely manner but whose documentation were not properly processed.

Justice DelConte released a 23-page ruling detailing his findings. As a result, it appears his acceptance or rejection of various ballots and a decision governing the mis-applied voter registrations allow Tenney to increase her lead from 29 votes to 122.

The justice first ordered Tioga County’s election officials, the only entity from the eight-county district that had no issues, to immediately certify their final totals. From the remaining seven counties with outstanding ballots, those election officials were ordered to appear in court Monday to count or remove votes at the Justice’s direction.

Once completed, the DelConte ruling ordered the counties to then implement a final canvass and certify their results by mid-day today. At this point, the final results from all eight counties will be sent to the State Elections Board in Albany for final certification.

In summary, the original totals found the two candidates, Tenney and 116th Congress incumbent Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica), separated by just 12 votes from the 317,727 ballots cast: 155,492 to 155,480, respectively, and including 6,755 votes for the Libertarian candidate. Through the ballot challenge period, we saw Brindisi moving ahead by 14 votes, and then back to Tenney’s most often reported 29-vote edge. It was only through Friday’s ruling when her advantage expanded to 122.

In all, 1,118 ballots were challenged. A total of 533 of those were withdrawn through agreement between the two campaigns, and after the two camps had resolved challenges to an additional 43 ballots. Three more ballots were “not preserved for judicial review.” Of the 609 challenges the justice considered, 470 were admitted to the count while 139 were rejected and ordered removed.

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