Lofgren Statement on Contested Election in Iowa’s Second Congressional District

Mar 24, 2021
Press Release

San Jose, Calif. – Today, Committee on House Administration Chairperson Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) issued the following statement on the election contest in Iowa’s Second Congressional District: 

“The House has an obligation under Article I, Section 5 of the Constitution to determine its own members.  This means the House is obligated to ensure the will of the people, through their votes, is reflected in the final composition of the House.  The Federal Contested Election Act of 1969 assigns the Committee on House Administration the responsibility to hear elections contests.  In the 117th Congress, there have been two such contests properly filed – Iowa's Second Congressional District, and Illinois’ Fourteenth.  

“Under this Federal law, a contest cannot be filed with the House unless and until the State that conducted the election has certified the results.  The Federal law requires that the challenger assert specific facts which, if proven true, would change the outcome of the election.  The burden of proof is on the challenger.  The statute does not require the challenger to seek relief in state court.  In fact, if a state court makes a judgment about the challenged race, the House is not bound by that judgment.

“We did not seek out these contests, but we are obligated under federal law to follow the process and the facts.

“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 Second.  With that history in mind, it is profoundly disappointing some of my Republican colleagues are now painting this process as somehow nefarious.  Under the law, state certification is a requisite for establishing a contested election case.  

“Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy served with me on a task force to investigate the last substantive contested election before the House and said at the outcome of that investigation that ‘the American public can be very proud […] to know every vote in [Florida’s] Thirteenth District was counted, the outcome was correct.’  Why would he not wish for that same standard in Iowa’s Second District?  

“The Committee on House Administration has not made any decision about the outcome of the contest.  We will continue to follow the process outlined by law.  Decisions will be made based only upon the law and the facts.  I urge Republicans to end their coordinated public campaign – filled with the same dangerous rhetoric and baseless accusations of ‘stealing an election’ that contributed to a deadly riot in the Capitol  – and instead join us in a deliberate and dispassionate examination of the facts before the Committee.” 

Background:

  • The first standing committee created in the history of the House was the Committee on Elections, which was assigned jurisdiction to hear election contests, and is the predecessor of today’s Committee on House Administration.
  • 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.
  • 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 Second.
  • Two contests are currently pending before the Committee on House Administration – well below the historical average.
  • Leader Kevin McCarthy previously served with Chairperson Zoe Lofgren on a task force that reviewed a contested election. In that matter, the Committee brought in GAO to look at voting machines and examine votes because, as Leader McCarthy said on the House floor at the investigation’s conclusion, “we wanted to make sure…as we were going through, that we looked at every single one.”

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Congress Number: 
117th Congress