DAVENPORT, Iowa — The Iowa House District 81 race has been a roller coaster of emotions for both Republican candidate Luana Stoltenberg and Democratic candidate Craig Cooper. After four recounts and a month of back and forth, Stoltenberg has emerged as the winner of the race.
On Nov. 6th, the Absentee and Special Voters Precinct Board (ASVP) counted and accepted 23,351 envelopes with ballots. Originally, the staff identified 23,453 envelopes but believed that the total was miscounted.
The ASVP Board began counting ballots on Nov.7th and finished counting the following day. During this count, two ballot-counting machines that were being used experienced several jamming issues. The machine total of counted ballots was 22,874 on November 8th. On the same day, Luana Stoltenberg was declared the winner of the race by 29 votes.
On November 10th, auditor staff reviewed numbers from the ASVP Board reports and compared them to the machine count. Upon review, there was a concern that ballots were not accounted for properly through the machine. This resulted in Scott County Auditor Kerri Tompkins contacting the Iowa Secretary of State's office to ask for an Administrative Recount. Her request was approved and the next day her staff began the process.
The expected total of ballots was reviewed on November 14th by the ASVP board and agreed that the total is 23,362. This number comes after an additional 23 ballots were reviewed and accepted. Ballots that were rejected previously were removed from the count.
The recount began on November 15th. Ballot machines were used and faced jamming issues. The total recount number from this recount was 23,395.
The process continued on November 17th with a hand count for every legal ballot. Tompkins's team put the ballots in bundles of 100 and separated them into boxes. From this recount, 23,297 ballots were accounted for.
On November 18th, the process was finalized with a machine count. According to Tompkins's report, only two boxes had issues with their original counts. After these discrepancies were righted via hand count and later confirmed by machine, the total votes tallied to 23,362. On this same day, Craig Cooper was declared the winner of the race by 6 votes. Luana Stoltenberg would later submit a request for a recount.
News 8 has contacted the administrative office for numbers on the recent recount. While we have not received numbers from the office, here's what we know.
A board was created for the recount. It consists of three members, two of which were chosen by each candidate. The recount began on November 29th. Ballots were counted by hand and machine. On December 7th, Stoltenberg was declared the winner by 11 votes (5,073 to 5,062). However, the machine count shows that Craig Cooper was the winner. (News 8 has not been able to receive numbers from the machine count)
Craig Cooper told News 8 that he is not planning on running for office again and he is declaring himself retired. Stoltenberg says she is looking forward to serving the people of Iowa.
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