Iowa’s Secretary of State calls proposes bill to streamline election recount process

(ABC 6 News) – Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate is proposing a bill to the Iowa Legislature that streamlines the recount process for elections. The bill standardizes the recount timeline in all 99 counties, provides additional flexibility for the makeup of recount boards, and requires uniform methods for how ballots are recounted, reconciled, and reported.

“The integrity of Iowa’s elections is my top priority and this bill would help ensure we have clean, secure elections and a recount process that is uniform across the state,” Secretary Pate said. “We’ve had the opportunity to identify these areas of improvement while observing several large-scale recounts in recent years.”

Secretary Pate recommends in his proposed bill that all counties conduct their official canvass of elections on Tuesdays. That would ensure the recount timeline is uniform for every county.

The proposed legislation would also increase the size of recount boards, depending on a county’s population. Currently, recount boards are comprised of three members. Under the proposed legislation, recount boards for counties with a population of 15,000-49,000 would increase to five members. Counties with population over 50,000 would have seven members. Additionally, the members of the recount boards, aside from one designee from each candidate, would be comprised of precinct election officials selected by the chief judge of the judicial district.

“Recounts in large counties are difficult for just three people to conduct,” Secretary Pate said. “I’d like to give the recount boards more members, so the tallying of votes is more manageable and more efficient.”

Finally, the legislation proposes recounts be conducted in a uniform manner. If a candidate requests a hand recount of ballots, all ballots involved in the recount must be tallied by hand and machine. In recent years, candidates have requested a hand recount in some precincts and a machine count in others. The proposed bill seeks to end that practice.

The Iowa Legislature’s 2023 general assembly begins on Monday, January 9.