Friday, December 04, 2020

I (Don't) Hart Election Challenges

At the moment, the margin in Iowa's second congressional district is a whopping six votes. Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks (again, that name!) holds the infinitesimal lead over Democrat Rita Hart in the open seat race, and has been certified the winner by Iowa election officials.

Hart has suggested she will forgo court challenges and instead take the race directly to the House. This, of course, puts Democrats in an awkward position. We've been harping on the sanctity of certified election results for weeks now in the face of completely unsubstantiated fraud claims by the Trump campaign. But now Democratic officials are being asked to overturn those certified results for their own benefit.

And look -- there's obvious differences between a race decided by tens of thousands of votes that isn't going to anywhere in a recount, versus one decided in the single digits. And moreover, Hart is not to my knowledge making any spurious claims about fraud -- she thinks a more rigorous counting process will pick up some ballots wrongfully discounted and push her into the lead (such inferences are rarely justified, but in the context of -- again! -- a six vote margin, they might actually bear out).

But still, the optics here are just terrible, and she's placing House Democrats in an awful position. Given the disappointing underperformance of House Dems this cycle, it's frustrating to lose a seat by such a tiny margin (and there's yet another House seat, New York's 22nd, which currently sits on a margin of less than 20 votes). Yet right now, more than ever, we can't be playing clever games with voting certification. Hart's decision to forgo court challenges and instead force the House to act is wretched politics, and I for one do not appreciate it.

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