House votes to not count ballots

The Iowa House voted 53-42 to concur with the Election Contest Committee report recommendation to reject the 29 uncounted absentee ballots. Republican Michael Bergan's lead remains at nine votes in House District 55.

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The Iowa House discussed Monday what to do about 29 uncounted absentee ballots in the House District 55 race from November. If the Republican majority allows them to be counted those ballots could end up removing one of their own members from the House.

Republican Michael Bergan beat Democrat Kayla Koether by just nine votes.

House District 55 covers parts of Winneshiek, Fayette, and Clayton Counties.

The 29 ballots arrived before the election deadline but they did not have the postmark that Iowa law requires.

Representative Holt explained because the ballots had no postmark and did not have a tracking code used by some county auditors, they simply could not count them.

"It must also be noted that if these 29 ballots were to be counted it would mean we are treating them differently than all the other late arriving ballots in at least 97 other counties," said Holt.

Some democrats who have addressed the House have accused Republicans of disenfranchising voters. Democrat Art Stead of Cedar Rapids is among those who joined the chorus of democrats echoing such criticism, calling the current state of affairs "eerie".

"You are forcing us to disenfranchise Iowa citizens who did everything right and who were told that if you get this in the mail prior to election day your vote is going to count," said Democratic Representative Mary Lynn Wolfe.

The Iowa Secretary of State's office has reported that 1,045 ballots were not counted in November statewide. The reasons include they either didn't have a postmark or barcode or the ballots arrived to late.

This will be the first contested election to be decided by the Legislature since 1992.

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