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Republican Wins Iowa State House Race By 11 Votes After Multiple Recounts

 After multiple recounts, the results of an Iowa state legislative race flipped in favor of Republican candidate Luana Stoltenberg by just 11 votes.

The tumultuous process came to an end when a three-member board determined Stoltenberg was the winner in House District 81 with 5,073 votes, beating out Democrat Craig Cooper, who had 5,062, according to the Des Moines Register. Stoltenberg’s triumph adds to the Republican majority in the Iowa House, giving the GOP 64 seats compared to the Democrats’ 36, the report noted.

“Thank you so much to everyone in District 81 for the honor of representing you in the Iowa House!” Stoltenberg said in a post to Facebook on Thursday. “I want to hear what is important to you and how I can serve you these next couple years.”

In a Facebook post of his own, Cooper accepted defeat but raised “grave concerns” after the number of ballots counted across multiple tallies kept arriving at different numbers.

“While I’m disappointed we came up just a few votes short, I’m proud of our work and I enjoyed meeting so many people in our community. It’s clear voters are tired of politics and want lawmakers to work together to put people over politics,” he added.

Both Stoltenberg and Cooper held the lead at different junctures since Election Night, when the Republican appeared to have won by 29 votes, reported WQAD-TV, a local ABC affiliate. Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate said an error was found in the tabulation of absentee ballots in Scott County, so an administrative recount was conducted.

That process began with election officials in the county conducting a machine recount of absentee ballots, but they turned to a hand recount after the machines kept jamming. Following another machine count, the state reported in mid-November that Cooper led by six votes. Stoltenberg challenged the initial recount, leading to the final check, conducted by a three-person board featuring members chosen by the candidates.

The board, boasting representation from both political parties, performed a machine count and hand count. While the machine count settled on a tally “very similar” to the initial recount and showing Cooper as the winner, the board went with its hand recount, which determined Stoltenberg as the victor by 11 votes, according to Scott County Auditor Kerri Tompkins.

“At this time, it is still unclear if the original discrepancy was due to the machines or human error,” Tompkins wrote in a report to the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office. “Videos have been reviewed and nothing stands out via our process from Election Day. However, we will review our processes with ES&S [the machine vendor] and other stakeholders for additional clarity. We will modify our internal practices as necessary. In addition, we have been coordinating our efforts with the Iowa SOS office and appreciate their support and guidance. Our goal is to ensure accuracy.”

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