ON THE DAY the 99th Congress convened, a cloud remained over the election results in Indiana's 8th District. Incumbent Democrat Frank McCloskey appeared to be the victor on election night. He was ahead by 72 votes. But after a correction had been made in the count in one county, Republican challenger Richard McIntyre pulled ahead by 34 votes.

Indiana's secretary of state certified Mr. McIntyre as the winner, but the Democrats demanded a full recount in each of the district's 15 counties. That recount had not been completed by the first week in January, and both men showed up to be sworn in when the House met. Because the earlier count had been so close and the recount was still in progress, the House, on a party-line vote, refused to seat either man that day, thoug both have been on the payroll temporarily. The postponement was reasonable at that time. Last week a recount of all counties in the 8th District was completed, and the final figures show Mr. McIntyre to be the winner by a comfortable 418 votes. There are no allegations of fraud, and even though thousands of ballots were disqualified during the recount, the action was taken, in 90 percent of the cases, by election commissions dominated by Democrats. Nevertheless, the House on Thursday refused once again to seat Mr. McIntyre -- even conditionally -- because the Committee on House Administration is reviewing the returns. This process is expected to take another 45 days.

Mr. McCloskey has every right to challenge the result of the election in court, as former Rep. George Hansen has done in his tight Idaho contest. But there is no need for the House to wait for a judicial determination to seat the winner. Nor is it necessary to leave the people of Indiana's 8th District without a voting representative in Congress until April. The votes are in. They have been counted twice. The margin of victory is comfortable, and Indiana election officials have twice certified the winner. The House is the final judge of the qualifications of its members, but until and unless the Committee on Administration finds otherwise, Mr. McIntyre ought to be seated.