March 06, 2021

LETTER: Miller-Meeks ballot count

The lawyer for the Miller-Meeks campaign, Alan Ostergren, wrote in his petition to dismiss Hart’s challenge in the House of Representatives that her challenge should be thrown out because she did not first take her case to the Iowa courts. He argues, over the course of nearly thirty pages, that precedent requires a challenger to “exhaust all state remedies” before bringing a challenge to the House.

Precedent, in fact, does not require the exhaustion of state remedies in such a case. It’s a frankly preposterous argument that applies cases from the 1930s, decades prior to the passage of the law under which Hart is asking for review. In the most recent case, involving the Dornan-Sanchez recount in 1998, the Republican-majority Election Oversight Committee denied Sanchez’s motion to dismiss based on exhaustion of remedies.

The fatal problem with the Miller-Meeks campaign’s argument is that they are engaging in the wrong debate.  Nowhere, in the thirty-five pages of the petition, does Ostergren address the twenty-two ballots in question in Hart’s challenge. Nowhere does Ostergren present additional ballots that should have been counted.  By not arguing the legality of these ballots, he is conceding that they should be counted.

Again, Rita Hart has consistently said that she wants a full recount with consistant rules across all counties, not just the inclusion of the 22 votes that would swing the election her way.  She could just as easily lose as win a full recount, and that is the honorable way of settling this. Yes, recounts are long and another one would be exhausting. But in the closest Congressional race in the last century, wouldn’t we all like to know who received the most votes?