Judge considers northeast Iowa absentee ballot dispute

November 30, 2018

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A Democratic candidate in a northeast Iowa House district who is trailing by just nine votes has asked a judge to halt certification of votes for the race so the court can decide whether 33 ballots left uncounted because they lack a postmark should be included in the vote total.

Attorneys for Kayla Koether (KAY-tuhr) argued Friday for a temporary injunction in Polk County District Court to stop Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate from certifying incumbent Republican Michael Bergan as the House District 55 winner on Monday morning.

Judge Scott Beattie says he will consider whether to halt certification of the race and file an order before the certification board meets.

Koether argues that Pate and Winneshiek County Auditor Ben Steines should have used Postal Service barcodes placed on envelopes to confirm whether they were mailed by the day before Election Day, the deadline required by Iowa law.

State law allows ballot envelopes with a postmark or an intelligent mail barcode to be counted, but counties often don’t count ballots without traditional postmarks.

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