San Jose, Calif. – Committee on House Administration Chairperson Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif) issued the following statement today on the election contest in Iowa’s Second Congressional District:
“I understand that candidate Rita Hart has withdrawn her contest. The contest before the Committee on House Administration was proceeding under the Federal Contested Election Act, which requires a contestant. There being no contestant, there is no longer a contest, and the Committee will, accordingly, recommend that the whole House dispose of the contest and adopt a dismissal resolution reported out by the Committee”.
- Elections contests are a regular and expected part of the federal election cycle. Congress has a Constitutional duty to ensure the will of the people is reflected in the final composition of the House. Under Article I, Section 5 of the Constitution, [e]ach House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members.” This final and exclusive right is essential to the free election and independent existence of the legislative branch.
- The House had its first contested election before the United States even had its first President: the first contest was brought in April 1789, before President George Washington was inaugurated.
- Since the First Congress, consideration of contested elections has been a regular and recurring part of the House’s constitutional prerogatives and work.
- Across our nation’s history, more than 600 elections have been contested in the House – an average of more than 5 per Congress.
- In fact, contested elections became so common and frequent that by 1895, the House formed three separate Committees on Elections to review and consider contests.
- In more recent history, contested elections have remained a normal part of the House’s exercise of its constitutional prerogatives regarding its membership, with some changes to update procedural aspects of how the House handles these regular challenges.
- Congress passed the Federal Contested Election Act (FCEA) in 1969, which lays out the procedure for candidates for the House of Representatives to contest an election. The FCEA modernized the procedural framework for the prosecution, defense, and disposition of contested election cases before the Committee on House Administration. The Committee’s jurisdiction over elections contests includes the authority to examine election returns, procedures, ballots, and more in an elections contest case.
- Every two years the Committee on House Administration works on a bipartisan basis to send observers to congressional districts where there is reason to believe that the general election results may be particularly close, or susceptible to challenge.
- Just four months ago, in 2020, the Committee sent 63 observers to 25 districts – identified by both Democrats and Republicans – to proactively monitor elections for which there was a reasonable basis to expect that a contest might be filed.
- This Congress, the House has had two elections contests properly filed under the FCEA. The first is in Illinois’ Fourteenth Congressional District. The second is in Iowa’s Second Congressional District.
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