Nearly four weeks after the election, Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks is poised to be declared the official winner — by just six votes — in what has become the closest congressional race in the country, flipping a seat held by Democrats for the past 14 years. The Scott County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Monday to certify the results of a county recount in the uncalled Iowa 2nd congressional district race, despite an unexplained 131-ballot discrepancy between the number of absentee ballots counted on election day and those counted by the recount board. A state canvassing board is scheduled to meet Monday afternoon, the legal deadline under Iowa Code, to certify the results of the race, following a districtwide recount in all 24 counties, and officially declare Miller-Meeks as the winner of the race. However, there is still a possibility of legal challenges brought by the campaign of Democrat Rita Hart, which would set in motion a proceeding before a judicial panel.
Iowa flap raises fears of politicized local election offices | Thomas Beaumont and Anthony Izaguirre/Associated Press
It had been eight years since a Republican candidate even stepped forward to challenge Democrat Roxanna Moritz as the top elections official in Scott County, Iowa. Running unopposed in 2016 and 2020, Moritz had become, over her four terms as auditor, the top vote-getter ever in this swing-voting county along the Mississippi River, the third most-populous in the state. Moritz’s abrupt resignation last month came after months of tension that degenerated into personal attacks and threats of violence. Her departure and partisan moves since then are signs that an office long viewed as nonpartisan is now fair game in the political fight about trust in the nation’s elections. “We took a lot of crap in my office, all of us,” Moritz said in an interview, describing angry, sometimes threatening calls from the public accusing her of fixing the 2020 election. “It was all partisan intimidation.” Republicans who control the Scott County Board of Supervisors said politics played no part in their criticism of Moritz’s handing of a county finance matter last year that led to calls from voters for her resignation. She is accused of falsifying working hours for poll workers to justify paying them more before the June 2020 primary when the coronavirus pandemic made it difficult to recruit help. The state auditor, Democrat Rob Sand, is investigating. But the issue festered with a number of Republican voters in Scott County who were upset with the outcome of the presidential election nationally, even though Republican Donald Trump handily won Iowa over Democrat Joe Biden in his bid for a second term.