House Speaker Nancy Pelosi claimed on Thursday that she had the right to have not seated Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Iowa, despite the Republican being certified as the narrow winner of her election.
Weren’t Pelosi and her fellow Democrats saying just a few months ago that questioning state-certified election results was akin to treason?
Miller-Meeks won the closest federal election since 1974, edging out Democratic contender Rita Hart by just six votes.
The final tally in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District came following a recount, after which the bipartisan Iowa State Canvassing Board certified Miller-Meeks as the winner in late November.
Rather than challenge the result in state court, Hart went to the Democrat-controlled House to seek to overturn the result.
The matter is currently before the Committee on House Administration, chaired by Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California.
Hart is claiming if 22 discarded mail-in ballots had been counted, she would have won the race by nine votes rather than lose by six, according to CNN.
Hart’s campaign released some voter testimonies stating their ballots were improperly tossed due to issues with the envelopes.
A reporter at Pelosi’s news conference on Thursday raised the topic of the Iowa race, noting that some Democratic members have already come out in opposition to unseating Miller-Meeks in favor of Hart. He wondered where the speaker stood.
“Yesterday, the Chair of the House Administration Committee, Zoe Lofgren, issued a statement on the contested election, Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District. In it, she talks about the process that is involved there,” Pelosi said, according to an official transcript of her remarks.
In her statement, Lofgren argued, “Republicans know how this process works — over the past 90 years the Congress has adjudicated, in a bipartisan manner, more than a hundred contested elections cases filed by Republicans and Democrats alike in races nowhere near as close as Iowa’s 2nd.”
“With that history in mind, it is profoundly disappointing some of my Republican colleagues are now painting this process as somehow nefarious.”
Pelosi pointed to Congress’ authority found in the Constitution’s Article I, Section 5, which gives the House of Representatives the power to be the “Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own members.”
However, Article I, Section 4, states, “The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof.”
So the House does not have the sole authority over the matter of congressional elections.
Nonetheless, the speaker believes she has overriding authority not to seat a duly elected member of Congress.
“Now, if I wanted to be unfair,” Pelosi said, “I wouldn’t have seated the Republican from Iowa, because that was my right on the opening day. I would have just said, ‘They’re not seated.’ And that would have been my right as speaker to do. But we didn’t want to do that. We just said, ‘Let’s just go through this process.’”
“Many members were saying, ‘Don’t seat the person.’ You know, you’re naming a few who are saying, ‘Let’s move on.’”
Conservative commentator Allie Beth Stuckey pointed out that Pelosi and the Democrats were arguing earlier this year that any Americans who questioned state-certified election results were trying to undermine democracy.
In fact, the Democrats impeached former President Donald Trump, claiming his questioning of the results led to the Jan. 6 riot on Capitol Hill.
I thought congresspeople overturning the results of elections was a threat to democracy and the cause of terrorism https://t.co/xpMq5rXXm6
— Allie Beth Stuckey (@conservmillen) March 25, 2021
Miller-Meeks contends it is not the role of Congress to override election results.
“Let me elucidate the facts. I won by a very large margin on election night,” Miller-Meeks told Fox News earlier this month.
“Then per Iowa law, all the counties in the 2nd Congressional District have their official county canvas. After that country canvas, I was still ahead in votes,” she added.
Miller-Meeks said she remained ahead following a recount conducted by a bipartisan board in each of the 24 counties in the district.
She went on to note that the House voted on Jan. 3 to seat every member who had been certified the winner in their respective races.
“Every Democrat voted that every member should be seated, and no one contested, no one stood up on the House floor and contested my being sworn in as the congresswoman from the 2nd Congressional District,” Miller-Meeks said.
“If it’s not enough to win an election by six votes, then why is it enough to have six votes of Democrats on a commission to overturn an election?” she asked.
“Iowa law is what determines what our election processes is, how the ballots are included, and all of that was done.”
The question at hand is really quite simple: How is a partisan House committee in D.C. better able to review the facts and make a determination than a bipartisan panel in Iowa already did?
Fundamental fairness dictates keeping Miller-Meeks right where she is. We’ll see if Pelosi and her fellow Democrats can rise to the occasion and do what’s right.