Following up on this story written by my RedState colleague Bonchie earlier today, readers need to understand that the Democrats have used this very tactic in the past to reverse the certified outcome of an election for a seat in the House of Representatives, and they did so under circumstances where the outcome of that particular race had no impact on the operations of the House in any respect.
As Bonchie explained in this story, the dispute over the outcome of the Iowa House race is now pending in the House Committee on Administration. The Democrat challenger, Rita Hart, made a deliberate decision after the recount of ballots to NOT file any election contest in the Iowa courts as was authorized by Iowa law. Instead, she filed the petition with the House that is now pending to have the “winning” candidate — as identified by Iowa election officials — Mariannette Miller-Meeks, disqualified from holding the seat on the basis that she did not receive a greater number of votes than Hart received.
The House has the final say under the Constitution with respect to the qualifications of any individual to serve as a member. Under the statute authorizing the petition filed by Hart, the Committee conducts an investigation. It can hear from witnesses, accept documentary evidence, conduct interviews in Iowa, and even conduct a recount of all the ballots on its own to come up with its own final vote tally.
Remarkably, if the Committee chooses to recount the ballots itself, the standards for what constitutes a “valid” ballot under Iowa law do not apply to such a recount by the House. Democrats who have majority control of the committee can fashion their own standards as to what should be deemed a “valid” vote, and may freely choose to ignore any limitations on the process established by Iowa law and court precedent.
The Committee, based on its investigation, makes a recommendation to the full House, and it is a vote of the entire House that determines the outcome of the Petition filed by Hart.
As noted by Bonchie, Hart’s Petition seeks to have included in the vote tally 22 ballots which Iowa election officials disallowed for various reasons. Hart claims that if those ballots are counted, rather than lose the election by 6 votes, she would win the election by 13 votes. If the Committee was to include the 22 ballots in the final tally and then recommend the outcome to the full House with those votes included, the House could declare Rita Hart to be the winner of the election for Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District. And, the Democrats have done this very thing before.
In 1984, the House Democrat Majority voted to seat losing freshman incumbent Democrat Frank McClosky, rather than GOP challenger Richard McIntyre who had been certified the winner by Indiana election officials.
When the new Congress was initially seated in early January, a recount was still underway in Indiana, and the House voted to not seat either candidate.
When the recount was completed in February, the Republican was declared the winner. But the House Democrats refused to seat him and sent the matter to the House Administration Committee — the same committee conducting the current investigation. The Committee decided to recount the votes and tasked the Government Accountability Office — an arm of Congress — to do so. Democrat McClosky was determined to be the winner — by 4 votes.
On a party-line vote, the Democrats voted to seat McClosky.
Could Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats do the same thing on the Iowa contest?
In 1984, the Democrats enjoyed a 252-181 majority in the House. Nancy Pelosi has a 220-210 majority.
McClosky didn’t change the way Speaker Tip O’Neill could manage legislation, it only protected McClosky’s career by re-electing him to a second term. He went on to win re-election five more times after 1984.
Pelosi and the Democrats, with a much narrower majority, have a much greater need to have Dem. Hart rather than GOP Miller-Meeks win the Iowa House seat — she increases the margin for error in the House by 25%. While a five-seat majority rather than a four-seat majority might not seem like much — it will be pretty important if three or more Democrats retire or quit the House for one reason or another over the next two years.
What will the GOP do if this happens?