TagCongressional election

Rita Hart (D) withdraws contest of IA-02 election results

On Wednesday, March 31, Rita Hart (D) dropped her petition with the House Administration Committee to investigate the Nov. 3, 2020, election in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R) defeated Hart by six votes in that race. House Administration Committee Chair Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D) said the committee would suspend its investigation of the election.

After announcing the decision, Hart said that she chose to end her challenge “after many conversations with people I trust about the future of this contest.” “Despite our best efforts to have every vote counted, the reality is that the toxic campaign of political disinformation to attack this constitutional review of the closest congressional contest in 100 years has effectively silenced the voices of Iowans,” she said.

After the Nov. 3, 2020, general election, Iowa officials conducted three recounts of the results in the 2nd district. Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate (R) ordered a recount in Jasper County on Nov. 6 and then another in Lucas County on Nov. 10. On Nov. 13, Hart requested a full recount of votes in all 24 counties in the district. After this last recount, Miller-Meeks was certified as the winner by a margin of six votes on Nov. 30.

On Dec. 2, Hart announced she would contest the election with the House Administration Committee. She submitted a notice of contest on Dec. 22 that said 11 ballots were excluded due to poll worker errors and another 11 were excluded because of unsealed or damaged envelopes, having the voter’s signature in the wrong place, or being left in a drop box outside the county. Miller-Meeks was provisionally seated in the House on Jan. 3, and on Jan. 21, she filed a motion asking Congress to dismiss Hart’s challenge of the election results, saying that Hart should have pursued the matter through state procedures rather than filing a petition with the House.

On Mar. 10, the House Administration Committee voted 6-3 to consider Hart’s challenge and table Miller-Meeks’ motion to dismiss Hart’s challenge. After the decision to move forward with the investigation was announced, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) said Democrats are “literally trying to overturn a state-certified election here in Congress.” Some Democrats, such as Minnesota Rep. Dean Phillips (D), said overturning the results would be a mistake. “Overturning it in the House would be even more painful for America. Just because a majority can, does not mean a majority should,” Phillips said.

Last year’s general election in Iowa’s 2nd District had the narrowest margin of victory in a U.S. House race since 1984. That year, Francis McCloskey (D) defeated Richard McIntyre (R) by four votes in Indiana’s 8th Congressional District. The House Administration Committee has dismissed most contested election cases that have come before it. According to a 2016 Congressional Research Service report, out of 107 contested election cases filed between 1933 and 2009, the candidate who contested the election won three times. 

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Federal judge strikes down 5% petition requirement for minor-party and unaffiliated U.S. House candidates in Georgia

On March 29, 2021, Judge Leigh Martin May, of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, struck down a Georgia law requiring minor-party and unaffiliated candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives to submit petitions signed by at least 5 percent of the district’s registered voters in order to appear on the ballot. May ruled this requirement “overburdens [voters’ and candidates’] rights to vote and to associate with their preferred political party, and so it violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments.”

May contrasted the 5-percent signature requirement for U.S. House candidates with the 1-percent requirement for statewide candidates, “The [Georgia] General Assembly has deemed a 1% petition signature requirement adequate to guard against ballot crowding and frivolous candidacies on a statewide basis. It is not immediately clear why candidates for non-statewide office must clear a proportionally higher hurdle, the 5% petition signature requirement. [The state] has not offered any explanation for this disparity.” 

May has not yet ordered a remedy. She directed the plaintiffs (the Libertarian Party of Georgia) to submit a brief within three weeks on proposed remedies. The state will then have an opportunity to respond to this proposal before May issues further guidance. 

Under the 5-percent signature requirement, originally enacted in 1943, no minor-party candidate for the U.S. House has qualified for placement on the general election ballot. In 2020, minor-party or unaffiliated candidates would have needed between 19,777 and 26,539 signatures in order to qualify for the ballot (the number varies by congressional district). 

It is not clear whether the state will appeal the decision.

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Julia Letlow wins Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District special election

Julia Letlow (R) defeated 11 other candidates to win the special election for Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District on March 20. Letlow received 65% of the vote, followed by Candy Christophe (D) with 27% of the vote. Under Louisiana’s majority-vote system, Letlow won the election outright by receiving more than 50% of the vote.

Julia Letlow is the widow of Rep.-elect Luke Letlow (R), who was elected to represent the district on Dec. 5, 2020. Luke Letlow died from complications related to COVID-19 on Dec. 29. Julia Letlow has worked in marketing and as an administrator at the University of Louisiana Monroe and Tulane University.

Before the 2020 general election, Louisiana’s 5th District was represented by Ralph Abraham (R), who did not seek re-election. The district was last represented by a Democrat in 2004 when Rep. Rodney Alexander (R) changed his partisan affiliation from Democratic to Republican. In the 2020 presidential election, Donald Trump (R) defeated Joe Biden (D) 65% to 34% in the district.



Troy Carter, Karen Peterson advance to runoff in Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District

State Senators Troy Carter (D) and Karen Peterson (D) received the most votes in the March 20 special election for Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District. Carter received 36% of the vote, and Peterson received 23%. Under Louisiana’s majority-vote system, Carter and Peterson will advance to a runoff election on April 24. Fifteen candidates—8 Democrats, 4 Republicans, 2 Independents, and one Libertarian—ran in the primary.

The 2nd Congressional District became vacant after Cedric Richmond (D) was appointed senior adviser to the president and director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. President Joe Biden (D) announced Richmond’s appointment on November 17, 2020

Richmond was first elected in 2011. Since 2000, the seat has been occupied by a Democrat except from 2008 to 2010, when it was represented by Joseph Cao (R). Richmond was re-elected in 2020 with 63.9% of the vote.



House Administration Committee votes to consider challenge to results in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District

The House Administration Committee moved to consider Rita Hart’s (D) challenge of the results in last November’s election in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District March 10. The committee voted in favor of considering the challenge and tabling a motion by Hart’s opponent, Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R), to dismiss the appeal. The decision will allow Hart to present evidence in support of her petition to the committee, which will then present a full report to the House recommending who should fill the seat.

After the November general election, Iowa officials conducted three recounts of the results in the 2nd district. Secretary of State Paul Pate (R) ordered a recount in Jasper County on Nov. 6 and one in Lucas County on Nov. 10.  On Nov. 13, Hart requested a full recount of votes in all 24 counties in the district. After this recount, Miller-Meeks was certified as the winner by a six-vote margin on Nov. 30.

On Dec. 2, Hart announced she would contest the election before the House Administration Committee. She submitted a notice of contest on Dec. 22 that said 11 ballots were excluded due to poll worker errors and another 11 were excluded because of unsealed or damaged envelopes, having the voter’s signature in the wrong place, or having been left in a dropbox outside the county. The notice asked the House to invalidate the state-certified results, count the ballots Hart said were excluded, and initiate a uniform hand recount in all 24 counties in the district. Miller-Meeks was provisionally seated in the House on Jan. 3, and on Jan. 21, she filed a motion asking Congress to dismiss Hart’s challenge of the election results, saying that Hart should have pursued the matter through state procedures rather than filing a petition with the House.

After the House Administration Committee announced it would move forward with the investigation, Hart said the decision helps ensure that every vote is counted: “At least twenty-two Iowans’ legally-cast ballots still have not been counted due to a string of errors. We are glad to see the House Committee on Administration taking the next step towards ensuring that every legally-cast vote is counted in this race and that all Iowans’ voices are heard. Every legal voter in this country has a right to have their ballot counted and the remedy here is clear — count the ballots,” she said. Miller-Meeks said: “In Iowa, the votes were counted, recounted, and in some cases – recounted again. Now, Rita Hart is asking democrat politicians in DC to elect her because the voters of Iowa did not.”

If the committee recommends the matter to the full House, the chamber will decide the outcome by a majority vote as provided for in Article I, Section 5, of the U.S. Constitution. Historically, most contested election cases heard by the committee were dismissed. Out of 107 contested election cases filed between 1933 and 2009, the candidate who contested the election only won three times. The November 3 election was the narrowest margin of victory in a U.S. House race since 1984, when Francis McCloskey (D) defeated Richard McIntyre (R) by four votes in Indiana’s 8th Congressional District.

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Early voting begins for Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District

Image of several stickers with the words "I voted"

Early voting begins March 6 and is open until March 13 for Louisiana’s 2021 elections, including a special election in Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District. The election takes place on March 20. Fifteen candidates are running to fill the seat left vacant when then President-elect Joe Biden (D) picked Cedric Richmond (D), who represented the district since 2011, to serve as a senior adviser to the president and director of the White House Office of Public Engagement.

Louisiana elections use the majority vote system in which all candidates compete in the same primary. A candidate can win the election outright by receiving more than 50% of the vote. If no candidate wins more than 50%, the top two vote recipients from the primary advance to the general election, no matter their partisan affiliation. If necessary, a runoff election will be held on April 24, 2021.

There are eight Democrats, four Republicans, two Independents, and one Libertarian running for the seat. Out of this field of candidates, media attention has largely focused on Troy Carter (D), Karen Peterson (D), and Gary Chambers (D). Carter represents Louisiana State Senate District 7 and Peterson represents Louisiana State Senate District 5. Chambers is an activist and publisher from Baton Rouge.

Both Carter and Peterson emphasized their experience and careers as lawmakers. “Throughout my career I’ve remained laser focused on the simple ways to improve people’s day to day lives – like guaranteeing access to COVID-19 19 vaccine, equality pay for women, criminal justice reform and fighting for a living wage,” said Carter.

Peterson said “After Katrina hit, I told the truth, held people accountable, and fought to help our families and our businesses rebuild. And that’s what I’ll do in Congress to lead us out of this pandemic.”

Chambers, who has never run for public office, said district lawmakers have focused too heavily on New Orleans and that people in the district “want a leader that’s concerned about all people, not just a select demographic of the district.”

Democrats have represented Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District since 2000, except between 2009 and 2011, when Anh “Joseph” Cao (R) held the seat. The 2020 Cook Partisan Voter Index for Louisiana’s 2nd district was D+25, meaning that in the previous two presidential elections, this district’s results were 25 percentage points more Democratic than the national average.

A special election will also take place on March 20 in Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District.

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Election still undecided in New York’s 22nd Congressional District

Results in the Nov. 3 U.S. House election in New York’s 22nd Congressional District have not yet been certified. The latest vote count, completed on Dec. 30, showed former Rep. Claudia Tenney (R) with a 29-vote lead over incumbent Anthony Brindisi (D). This race was one of 56 U.S. House rematches from 2018, when Brindisi defeated Tenney 51% to 49%.

Litigation over the validity of certain absentee and affidavit ballots began the day following the election and is ongoing. Problems with mislaid ballots, missing documentation of ballot challenges, and errors in vote tabulation slowed the process.

Oswego County Supreme Court Justice Scott DelConte has not made a final ruling on these issues, and official results have not been certified. DelConte also asked both campaigns to file legal briefs by Jan. 14 on 2,418 voter registration applications submitted through the Department of Motor Vehicles that the county board of elections did not process before election day. These voters had the option to cast an affidavit ballot, but these ballots weren’t counted since it appeared the voters weren’t registered. At least 63 affidavit ballots from this group are being reviewed.

Final oral arguments on all court proceedings in the case are scheduled for Jan. 22.

Here are some other recent elections where the result was not confirmed until weeks after the elections:

  1. In 2018, the North Carolina Board of Elections did not certify the results in the 9th Congressional District race and voted unanimously to call for a new election on Feb. 21, 2019. Rep. Dan Bishop (R) won the special election on Sept. 10, 2019. 
  2. In the 2016 North Carolina governor’s race, incumbent Pat McCrory (R) conceded on Dec. 5, 2016, after a recount in Durham County verified that Roy Cooper (D) would remain ahead. 
  3. In 2014, Martha McSally (R) was declared the winner over incumbent Ron Barber (D) in Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District at the conclusion of a recount on Dec. 17, 2014.



13 percent of open congressional seats changed party hands in 2020

Forty congressional incumbents—four in the Senate and 36 in the House—did not run for re-election in 2020. Of these 40 open seats, five (12.5 percent) changed party hands as a result of the 2020 elections. All five changes occurred in the House, where Democrats picked up three open seats previously held by Republicans and Republicans picked up two open seats—one held by a Democrat and the other by a Libertarian. Those seats were:

  1. Georgia’s 7th (Republican to Democrat)
  2. Iowa’s 2nd (Democrat to Republican)
  3. North Carolina’s 2nd (Republican to Democrat)
  4. North Carolina’s 6th (Republican to Democrat)
  5. Michigan’s 3rd (Libertarian to Republican)

In Iowa’s 2nd, certified results showed Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R) beating Rita Hart (D) by six votes. Hart indicated she would challenge the results of the election with the U.S. House. 

The group of 40 incumbents who did not run for re-election included 10 Democrats, 29 Republicans, and one Libertarian. They represented 8.5 percent of all 470 Congressional offices up for election.

Across all 2020 Congressional elections, 16 seats changed hands. Democrats picked up two seats in the Senate while Republicans picked up one. In the House, Democrats picked up three seats while Republicans picked up 10 seats.



The two battleground House races with electoral votes at stake

In addition to electing their next representative on Nov. 3, two battleground U.S. House districts will also decide which presidential candidate gets one of their state’s Electoral College votes.

While 48 states give all their electoral votes to the statewide winner of the presidential contest, Maine and Nebraska distribute some of their electoral votes to the winners of each congressional district. Each state awards two of its electoral votes to the statewide presidential election winner. Maine distributes its two remaining electoral votes to the winner(s) of its two congressional districts. And Nebraska distributes its three remaining electoral votes to the winner(s) of its three congressional districts.

Maine’s 2nd and Nebraska’s 2nd are two of the 41 battleground U.S. House races Ballotpedia is following.

Maine’s 2nd

Incumbent Jared Golden (D), Dale Crafts (R), and write-in candidates Daniel Fowler (D) and Timothy Hernandez (D) are running. 

Golden was first elected in 2018. He defeated incumbent Bruce Poliquin (R) 50.6% to 49.4%. That was the first general election in Maine for which ranked-choice voting was law. It was also the first congressional election in U.S. history to use ranked-choice voting to decide the winner.

The 2nd District is one of 30 Democratic-held U.S. House districts that Donald Trump (R) won in the 2016 presidential election. 

• Trump defeated Hillary Clinton (D) 51% to 41% in the 2nd District. Poliquin won the House race 55% to 45% that year.

• Barack Obama (D) won the district in the 2012 and 2008 presidential elections with 53% and 55%, respectively. Mike Michaud (D) won the House elections those years.

Three independent election forecasters rate the 2020 House race Likely or Solid Democratic.

Nebraska’s 2nd

Incumbent Don Bacon (R), Kara Eastman (D), and Tyler Schaeffer (L) are running. The race is one of 56 U.S. House rematches from 2018. In 2018, Bacon defeated Eastman 51% to 49%. Bacon defeated incumbent Brad Ashford (D) in 2016, 49% to 48%.

Presidential election results in recent cycles were as follows:

• Trump defeated Clinton 48% to 46% in the 2nd District in 2016.

• In 2012, Mitt Romney (R) defeated Obama 53% to 46% in this district. In 2008, Obama defeated John McCain (R) 50% to 49%. Lee Terry (R) won the House elections both years.

Three election forecasters rate the 2020 House race a Toss-up.

All 435 seats in the House are up for election. Democrats currently have a 232 to 198 majority over Republicans in the chamber.

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Former incumbent Ashford (D) endorses Bacon (R) in Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District

Brad Ashford (D), the former representative of Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District, endorsed incumbent Don Bacon (R) on October 7. Bacon defeated Ashford for the seat in 2016. Ashford said Bacon “demonstrated time and again … that he will put people above party to find bipartisan solutions.”

Ashford ran again in 2018, losing to Kara Eastman in the Democratic primary. Ashford previously ran for the district in the 1994 Republican primary. He was elected in 2014 as a Democrat. Ashford served in the nonpartisan Nebraska Unicameral legislature from 1987 to 1995 and again from 2007 to 2015. In 2011, he announced having changed his registration from Republican to independent.

Bacon, Eastman, and Tyler Schaeffer (L) are running for the 2nd District this year. Eastman defeated Ann Ashford, wife of Brad, in the 2020 Democratic primary.

State Sen. John McCollister (R) endorsed Eastman on October 9. McCollister has been critical of President Donald Trump and said Bacon had voted in favor of the president’s policies more than 90% of the time. He said Bacon was not independent and that Eastman wouldn’t “buckle under any pressure from the Democrat Party.”

On October 7, Roll Call named Bacon the most vulnerable House member of the 2020 election cycle, citing Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s 7-point lead among district voters in a recent poll and spending by national Democrats. As of October 8, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the National Republican Campaign Committee had each spent $1.2 million in the 2nd District.

Biden endorsed Eastman in the race.

In 2018, Bacon defeated Eastman 51% to 49%. Bacon won the 2016 election against Ashford 49% to 48%.

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