House panel considers uncounted ballots from NE Iowa race

January 14, 2019

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — House Democrats appointed to a committee to review the results of a contested northeast Iowa House election are vowing to fight any attempt to rush to judgment on whether to count 29 absentee mail ballots.

Kayla Koether trails Republican incumbent Michael Bergan by nine votes for the Iowa House District 55 seat.

Bergan was seated Monday and continues to represent the district.

The question the committee and eventually the Republican-led House must resolve is whether the ballots will be counted.

The dispute is the result of a conflict between state law and current practices of the U.S. Postal Service.

Iowa law says mailed absentee ballots received after election day must have a postmark to allow election officials to determine they were mailed by the mandatory deadline of the day before the election. However, the postal service doesn’t typically postmark absentee ballot envelopes.

Committee Chairman Steven Holt, a Republican, said Monday the committee will meet again Wednesday to hear from attorneys but not take evidence about whether the ballots were legally cast.

Democrat Brian Meyer says his party will fight attempts to resolve the matter without due process and may take the case to court.

An election contest hasn’t gone to the Iowa Legislature since a Senate dispute was settled in 1992.

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