A View from the Recount Room
22 Pages Posted: 12 Feb 2021 Last revised: 18 Mar 2021
Date Written: January 27, 2021
The 2020 race to represent Iowa’s Second Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives proved to be one of the closest federal elections in modern American history. When the race went to a recount, I had the honor of serving on the recount board for Johnson County, the second-largest county in the district. In Part I of this Essay, I briefly explain how we performed the recount. I particularly focus on the role that tabulating machines played in our work, a matter that proved to be contentious districtwide between the two campaigns’ leaders and on which the press’s reporting was sometimes inaccurate. In Part II, I turn to Iowa laws that require recount boards to disregard votes that appear on ballots bearing certain types of markings, as well as laws that limit the types of ballot markings that recount boards may count as valid votes. Using examples from ballots we encountered in Johnson County, I argue that some of these laws should be amended and others should be abandoned altogether.
Keywords: election, recount, recount board, identifying mark, write in, prescribed mark, absentee, congress, house of representatives
JEL Classification: K00, K10, K19, K30, K39
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation