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UPDATE 5-Top Democrat calls for audit of Iowa caucuses as problems delay final tally

Reuters | Lowa | Updated: 07-02-2020 06:57 IST | Created: 07-02-2020 06:54 IST
UPDATE 5-Top Democrat calls for audit of Iowa caucuses as problems delay final tally
Image Credit: Blue Diamond Gallery

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez called on Thursday for an audit of the Iowa caucuses after an array of problems delayed results from the party's first 2020 presidential nominating contest and created uncertainty about their accuracy. The leader of the Iowa Democratic Party said, however, it would comply only if a candidate asked for an audit.

No winner has been declared four days after the caucuses took place in roughly 1,600 locations throughout Iowa on Monday night, and the troubled process has clouded Democrats' initial efforts to find a challenger to Republican President Donald Trump in the November election. "Enough is enough," Perez wrote in a Twitter post. "In light of the problems that have emerged in the implementation of the delegate selection plan and in order to assure public confidence in the results, I am calling on the Iowa Democratic Party to immediately begin a recanvass."

Iowa Democratic Party Chair Troy Price said the local party did not plan to start an immediate audit. "We owe it to the thousands of Iowa Democratic volunteers and caucusgoers to remain focused on collecting and reviewing incoming results," Price said in a statement posted on Twitter.

"Should any presidential campaign in compliance with the Iowa Delegate Selection Plan request a recanvass, the IDP is prepared." Under party rules, a recanvass would involve reviewing worksheets and forms that were submitted via telephone and a new mobile app on caucus night.

With 97% of precincts counted, Pete Buttigieg, the 38-year-old former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, had 26.2% of state delegate equivalents and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont had 26.1%, according to the state party. U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren was third with 18.2%. Buttigieg, ahead in the delegates that will be used to determine a winner, has claimed victory in the race. Sanders followed suit on Thursday as candidates campaigned in New Hampshire before the state's presidential primary on Tuesday.

Despite the inconclusive results, Sanders thanked Iowans for "the very strong victory they gave us" in Monday's caucuses. The senator has a slight lead in the equivalent of Iowa's popular vote, but that will not be used to determine a winner. Asked later at a CNN event if he would request a recanvass, Sanders said: "We've got enough of Iowa. I think we should move on to New Hampshire."

He added: "I suspect that at the end of the day, Mr. Buttigieg and I will have an equal number of delegates to the national convention." It was not clear when the rest of the results would be released.

Party officials initially attributed the delays to a technical problem with the new mobile app, but other concerns have since emerged, complicating efforts to release the final tallies.

'SCREWUP'

The Iowa Democratic Party received an "unusually high volume of inbound calls" to its caucus hotline on Monday night from "callers who would hang up immediately after being connected, supporters of President Trump who called to express their displeasure with the Democratic Party, and Iowans looking to confirm details," a party official said. The call volume was "highly irregular" compared with previous caucuses, the official said.

The New York Times has also reported that more than 100 precincts reported results that were inconsistent, had missing data or were not possible under the caucus rules, casting doubt on the count. The Iowa Democratic Party declined to comment on inconsistencies.

Both parties have criticized Iowa's process. "They can't count some simple votes and yet they want to take over your healthcare system," Trump said of Democrats during an address celebrating his acquittal on impeachment charges.

His own party, however, switched the declared Iowa winner two weeks after its own Iowa caucuses in 2012. In Manchester, New Hampshire, Sanders called the caucus debacle a "screwup" that was unfair to all candidates.

After Iowa's reporting issues and delays, the Nevada Democratic Party, which hosts its caucus on Feb. 22, is "scrapping both the app and ties to Shadow," the company that developed caucus-reporting apps for both Iowa and Nevada, party spokeswoman Molly Forgey said. "Luckily for us, we had a series of backup plans in place," Forgey added.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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