Iowa’s bipartisan canvassing board certified in November that Hart lost to Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks by six votes out of nearly 400,000 cast. Hart then took her case to the House, hoping that it would count 22 other ballots and declare her the winner.
Miller-Meeks’ lawyers warned Monday that Hart’s case could damage the public’s faith in its elections if a Democratic-controlled House Administration Committee investigated her case, and a Democratic-controlled House voted to seat a Democrat despite the verdict of the state’s election board. They asked in the brief, “At what point would the committee be merely searching for a result rather than searching for the will of Iowans?”
Hart lawyer Marc Elias wrote to the House panel that while Miller-Meeks might try to “distract both the public and the House by injecting partisan rancor into these proceedings — an apparent effort to compensate for her lack of legal, factual, or normative arguments,” Hart is trying to ensure that the district is represented by the candidate who “received the most lawful votes.”
“After months of discussion and filings, Contestee Miller-Meeks has yet to produce a single argument to suggest why the 22 votes identified in this proceeding should not be counted,” he added.
Republicans have argued that Democrats are trying to steal the seat, after they lambasted former President Donald Trump for trying to reverse his electoral defeat in 2020. Elias and some Democrats have retorted that Hart seeks to count legal ballots while the former President baselessly sought to throw them out.
Miller-Meeks’ attorneys have also said that Hart could’ve gone to court instead of Congress, while Hart’s campaign has argued there wasn’t enough time for the Iowa judicial system to rule on the case by a December 8 deadline.
Some House Democrats have become increasingly wary of overturning the House race, as Republicans have gone on the attack.
“The burden of proof in this matter lies with Ms. Hart, and her evidence would need to clear a very high bar to warrant action from the House,” Rep. Matt Cartwright, a Pennsylvania Democrat, told CNN. “Otherwise, election decisions made at the state and local level should be respected.”
The National Republican Campaign Committee targeted Iowa Democrat Rep. Cindy Axne on Monday in a radio ad featuring a narrator who says, “Thou shall not steal.” In December, Axne said that Hart has the “constitutional and legal grounds to pursue” her case. “I support a transparent process that ensures every properly-cast vote in this contest is counted,” Axne added.
House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy urged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a letter Monday to “put your faith in our democracy and dismiss this partisan contest.” McCarthy will travel with Miller-Meeks on Wednesday to Iowa to visit a vaccine distribution site and draw attention to the election.
Last week, Pelosi defended the House Administration as it considers Hart’s case, and said if she had “wanted to be unfair” she would’ve not seated Miller-Meeks in January.
“If you had lost a race by six votes, wouldn’t you like to say, ‘There must be some way that we can count this,'” asked Pelosi. “The House of Representatives has the authority to do that.”
“We want to be fair,” she added.