Saturday 10 December 2022

Republican flips Iowa state seat after hand recount and machine errors

 Republican Luana Stoltenberg has finally been declared the winner in an Iowa state election after multiple recounts, errors, and lead changes.

Stoltenberg's final margin of victory was just 11 votes after a hand recount finalized the tallies, according to the Des Moines Register.

A three-member board determined the totals to be 5,073 for Stoltenberg to 5,062 for Democrat Craig Cooper, giving the Republican the victory in House District 81 in Iowa. Republicans control the state house with 64 seats to the Democrats' 36.

Both candidates held leads during the race, with Stoltenberg originally appearing to win the election by 29 votes, after which Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate said there had been an error in absentee ballot tabulation in Scott County, which led to an administrative recount, according to the Daily Wire.

After the initial recount, Democrat Craig Cooper took the lead by six votes (5,093 to 5,087) and wasted no time congratulating himself on social media.

"It has been an amazing day on a long, rewarding journey," Cooper said in a statement. "I look forward to serving all the residents of Iowa House District 81. I pledge to start every day thinking about the people I represent."

A second recount, this time by machine, again showed Cooper as victorious. However, according to Scott County auditor Kerri Tompkins, the totals had changed "a little bit."

The aforementioned three-member board then conducted a hand count using a "different process," which resulted in Stoltenberg once again being declared the victor. According to the auditor, the board has the final say in which count it ultimately goes with, and it felt most confident with the hand recount.

After three days of counting and sorting, it was determined that the board found 45 fewer absentee ballots than the auditor's count, the Quad-City Times reports. The swing came from 31 fewer votes for Cooper, and 14 fewer for Stoltenberg. That dropped Cooper's final tally to the accepted total of 5,062, which was not enough to match Stoltenberg's 5,073.

Kevin Hall, spokesperson for the Iowa secretary of state, said in a statement that he felt the recount board was bipartisan, as it included "two Democrats and one Republican," who have "publicly stated they are confident in the results of their recount and we thank them for their efforts."

"There were 31 votes that just simply disappeared," the losing Democrat remarked. "I have no idea whether the ballots weren't run or whether the ballots never existed."

Stoltenberg subsequently thanked District 81 in a Facebook post, telling voters that she wants to hear from them.

“I want to hear what is important to you and how I can serve you these next couple years.”

The recount results will now go to Scott County Board of Supervisors and state elections board to certify.

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