DES MOINES — A week into the hot mess of the Iowa Democratic caucuses, the presidential campaigns of Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg on Monday formally requested re-cavasses of dozens of precincts and satellite caucuses, virtually ensuring that what could have been the first-in-the-nation assessment of White House hopefuls is at least the second.
Although the Iowa Democratic Party last week released what it called complete results — showing Buttigieg with a tiny advantage over Sanders — the party spent part of the weekend revisiting potential errors. Many news organizations have refused to declare a winner. Meanwhile, voters in New Hampshire cast ballots Tuesday in their presidential primary.
Though Iowa is in the rearview mirror as the Democratic candidates press their campaigns in the next states to decide, small nuances in the caucus delegate counts could have big implications.
The state party projected it would award 14 national delegates to Buttigieg and 12 to Sanders. But if the race remains tight, only a few delegates could determine who gets the nomination.
Sanders’ campaign was the first to seek a re-canvass before the deadline Monday. The campaign believes it found enough errors in the Iowa results that Sanders should be awarded one more national delegate, the campaign said.
“Our volunteers and supporters worked too hard, and too many people participated for the first time to have the results depend on calculations that even the party admits are incorrect,” campaign senior adviser Jeff Weaver said in a statement. “Once the re-canvass and a subsequent recount are completed in these precincts, we feel confident we will be awarded the extra national delegate our volunteers and grassroots donors earned.”
Buttigieg’s campaign, in response to the move, submitted a re-canvass request for dozens more precincts it says would get the candidate an even bigger advantage and keep the remaining delegate in his hands.
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In all, after removing duplicate requests, the campaigns asked for checks at 143 precincts — a tiny fraction of the nearly 1,700 sites.
A re-canvass is not a recount, but rather a check of the vote count against paper records created by caucus leaders. Iowa Democratic Party volunteers already have undertaken this process with most of the precincts, and the party has told activists it will not correct any faulty math recorded by volunteers in each precinct because changing the paper documentation would amount to criminally tampering with a legal document.
Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Troy Price reiterated this during a news conference Monday in Des Moines.
A candidate can request a recount of a precinct only if that site has already gone through a re-canvass, and candidates must pay for both.
A recount would require the party to check the results reported by volunteers in each individual caucus against cards used by each caucusgoer to pick.
The Sanders campaign said it didn’t believe a re-canvass would change the result, and left the door open to requesting a recount as its next step.
Price said the party would say within 48 hours if the re-canvass requests met the rules.
Last week, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez tweeted that “enough is enough” with the state’s party’s delay in releasing an accurate outcome. Sunday on CNN, he said he was “mad as hell.”
At his new conference Monday, Price said he was “disappointed” by the comments from his national counterpart.
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“You know, this has been a full partnership with the DNC throughout this entire time. And what I will say is we’ve got a job to do, and that is to finish up this process,” Price said.
The Associated Press contributed.
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