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The Latest: Iowa House candidate files to contest election

December 21, 2018

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Latest on the unresolved ballot dispute in a northeast Iowa House seat election: (all times local):

4:30 p.m.

The Democratic candidate for a northeast Iowa House seat has filed an election contest, a formal process that requires the House to consider whether 29 disputed ballots should be counted from the November election.

Kayla Koether (KAY-tuhr) on Friday asked the House to open and count all validly cast ballots, canvass all the votes again and recertify the House district election.

She trails incumbent Republican Michael Bergan by nine votes in the northeast Iowa district and counting the mail-in absentee ballots could change the election outcome.

An Iowa judge dismissed her court challenge Friday ruling that the ballot dispute should be taken up by the House under Iowa law.

Election officials haven’t counted them because they do not have postmarks to prove when they were mailed. They do have postal bar code markings and postal officials say they were mailed on time.

House officials believe it’s the first time in more than 100 years the Iowa House has considered a contested election.

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9:30 a.m.

An Iowa judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Democratic challenger to a northeast Iowa House seat who lost the election by nine votes saying the appropriate challenge should be taken up by the House under Iowa law.

Democrat Kayla Koether (KAY-tuhr) asked Judge Scott Beattie to order election officials to count 29 mailed absentee ballots that did not have postmarks but did have postal bar code markings that revealed they were mailed on time.

Incumbent Republican Michael Bergan leads Koether (KAY-tuhr) by nine votes in the northeast Iowa district and counting the absentee ballots could change the election outcome.

Beattie says in a Friday ruling that the appropriate election challenge under the Iowa Constitution and law to a legislative seat is to the lawmakers themselves and not the court.

That means Koether may proceed by notifying Bergan and Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate she’s contesting the election.

Then, the Iowa House, currently led by Republicans will act as a court to consider evidence and decide whether to count the ballots.

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