- Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District: In the closest race in the country, Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks leads Democrat Rita Hart by fewer than 40 votes in an open seat held by retiring Democratic Rep. Dave Loebsack. The ongoing recount has generated controversy, however, as both campaigns have expressed procedural concerns. Last week, Hart’s campaign sent a letter to the secretary of state seeking clarification about how counties should handle checking voter intent during the recount. Now Miller-Meeks’s campaign is questioning the recount procedures in some counties. At issue are differing interpretations of the secretary of state’s guidance for checking voter intent on ballots that a machine might fail to read: Some counties have taken it to mean they can only check voter intent if they conduct a full hand recount, as opposed to using machines to count most ballots and only manually reviewing ballots where there’s some question about what the voter wanted to do. If a full hand recount is required to apply the voter intent standard, it would be nigh impossible to complete for all absentee ballots, which are treated as a single precinct, by the Nov. 27-28 deadline. But without examining voter intent, especially for over- and undervoted ballots, valid votes could be missed because machines couldn’t read them. Bipartisan recount boards in the district’s three most populous counties, including Scott, have used a hybrid approach where over- and undervotes are checked by hand after the machine count. But Miller-Meeks’s campaign alleges that counties can only conduct an all-machine or an all-manual recount, not use this hybrid method. Considering the margin, how this plays out is a very big deal: Hart appears to have picked up 30 net votes in Scott County that aren’t yet reflected in the totals, with recount updates still to come from other counties in the district.
- California’s 21st District: Republican David Valadao now leads Democratic Rep. TJ Cox by 1,719 votes. Rob Pyers of California Target Book estimates that there are about 2,500 votes left to count in the district’s bluest corner (Kern County), but 1,295 ballots left in its reddest (Kings County). This is increasingly looking like a GOP pickup.
- California’s 25th District: Republican Rep. Mike Garcia holds a razor-thin 0.1-point edge (400 votes) over Democrat Christy Smith. Pyers estimates there could be up to 2,900 votes left to count here, but it is Garcia, not Smith, who has been gaining ground as more votes are counted. Garcia has declared victory as a result, but independent decision desks are so far withholding judgment.
- New York’s 22nd District: The initial trajectory of the count favored Republican Claudia Tenney, who led Democratic Rep. Anthony Brindisi by 28,422 votes after Election Day, but absentee ballots have almost completely erased that lead. However, because of New York’s decentralized and disorganized absentee-ballot-counting process, no one knows exactly what the current margin is: Tenney likely leads by somewhere between 100 and 300 votes. With the initial count more or less complete, attention has turned to a court hearing this week over whether thousands of disputed absentee and provisional ballots will count.
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