Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate has been silent up until now on the contested Iowa House District 44 race in far northeast Iowa. Tuesday, Pate issued a statement on the election with more facts in the case.
Pate's statement says the 33 absentee ballots that Democrat Kayla Koether wants to count in her race for the seat (which she lost by 9 votes) can't be counted because they lacked either an official postmark by the US Postal Service or the official USPS bar code to verify when it was sent and delivered..
A judge has already dismissed the case, but Koether's attorneys are asking the court to reconsider and admit the 33 absentee ballots.
Here's the statement from Secretary Pate:
DES MOINES – Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate released the following statement today on the House District 55 election:
“There is a lot of misinformation being pushed out in the media by political partisans about the Iowa House District 55 election. Here are the facts:
Thirty-three ballots in Winneshiek County arrived after Election Day, without postmarks and without the Intelligent Mail barcode (IMb) imprinted by the county auditor and authorized by Iowa law. Therefore, they are not eligible to be counted under Iowa law.
Every absentee ballot envelope in Iowa includes a clear disclaimer that “POSTMARKS ARE NOT GUARANTEED”:
It’s unfortunate that some absentee ballots are not postmarked by the U.S. Postal Service. A 2016 legislative bill allowed the IMb to be accepted as an optional remedy for county auditors. The bill was sponsored by Iowa Senate Democrats, supported by the county auditors and by myself, and it passed unanimously in both the House and Senate. To date, only six counties use the IMb on their absentee envelopes, and Winneshiek is not one.
As Secretary of State, I swear an oath to uphold the Constitution and Laws of the State of Iowa, and I support every eligible vote being counted. Trying to change the rules after an election is not the way elections work in Iowa. In addition, this office and the Winneshiek County Auditor have complied with the district court order in all respects.
I will do everything under the law to ensure every voter is provided the same rights. I am disappointed by the political rhetoric. My job is to be the referee of elections and not side with one candidate or party. Ms. Koether has already requested and received recounts in two counties in House District 55, and she has the right under the law to file an election contest.’ – Paul Pate, Iowa Secretary of State