House Panel to Reject Uncounted District 55 Race Ballots

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – House Republicans leading a committee that is reviewing the results of a contested northeast Iowa House district election say they plan to recommend not opening and counting 29 absentee mail ballots that could reverse the outcome of the race.

Committee Chairman Steven Holt said Wednesday since the ballots had no postmark and didn’t have a seldom-used county election official tracking barcode, they can’t be counted even though postal officials have confirmed they were mailed in time to be valid votes.

Democrat Kayla Koether now trails Republican incumbent Michael Bergan by nine votes for the Iowa House District 55 seat. District 55 comprises parts of Clayton, Fayette and Winneshiek counties.

Holt says the committee on Thursday will report to the full House its recommendation to reject the 29 ballots. The House, also led by Republicans, hasn’t set a date to vote on the issue.

Committee member Rep. Brian Meyer, a Democrat, says Republicans “have turned this election contest into a sham” for refusing to hear from voters and election officials before deciding.

Bergan was seated to represent the district but Koether contested the election results, which means the House must decide whether to count the votes.