Sanders campaign to seek partial recanvass after Iowa Democrats award Buttigieg most delegates

DNC Chairman Tom Perez suggests that the state could lose its first-in-the-nation status over the divisive election

By Igor Derysh

Managing Editor

Published February 10, 2020 1:13PM (EST)

Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders (Getty Images/AP Photo/Salon)
Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders (Getty Images/AP Photo/Salon)

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., called for a partial recanvass of the results of the Iowa caucuses after the state's Democratic Party released error-riddled results showing former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg on top. 

The Iowa Democratic Party (IDP) released updated results on Sunday showing Buttigieg leading Sanders by 2 state delegate equivalents — which are used to determine the winner — out of 2,152 total. Sanders led Buttigieg in the raw vote by more than 2,500 votes. The Associated Press, The New York Times and other media outlets refused to declare a winner in the race after the state party did not address dozens of errors reported by news organizations.

As things stand, Buttigieg would receive 14 Iowa delegates to the Democratic National Convention, Sanders would receive 12, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., would receive eight, former Vice President Joe Biden would receive six, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., would receive one. The AP and The Times have not allotted Buttigieg the 14th delegate over the errors.

"There is still some evidence the party may not have accurately tabulated some of its results, including those released late Sunday following a series of revisions," the AP reported Sunday.

The Sanders campaign said it would seek a "partial recanvass" of about 20 to 30 Iowa precincts, which is not a recount but a check of vote numbers against paper records, according to the Associated Press.

Sanders campaign manager Faiz Shakir told CNN he believes Sanders will have the same number of delegates as Buttigieg "after it's all said and done."

Both Sanders and Buttigieg have claimed victory in the calamitous caucuses, which were marred by long delays in reporting the results because of a faulty app and an overwhelmed phone system. But the subsequent release of results have been marred by inaccuracies. The New York Times reported last week that it had identified errors in more than 100 precincts across the state. Errors included mathematical discrepancies in the numbers, candidates being allotted the wrong number of state delegate equivalents and precincts allotting more state delegate equivalents than available.

Internal IDP emails showed the party "would not fix errors that occurred on the official handwritten tally sheets from precincts," The Times reported Monday. The party corrected discrepancies between the precinct data and the numbers the IDP reported — but not the errors in the precinct data themselves. It argued that it would be illegal to correct the errors on the precinct data.

"The incorrect math on the Caucus Math Worksheets must not be changed to ensure the integrity of the process," IDP lawyer Shayla McCormally said in an email sent to IDP Chairman Troy Price, arguing that fixing errors would introduce "personal opinion" into the results.

"It is the legal voting record of the caucus, like a ballot," McCormally wrote. "The seriousness of the record is made clear by the language at the bottom stating that any misrepresentation of the information is a crime. Therefore, any changes or tampering with the sheet could result in a claim of election interference or misconduct . . . There are various reasons that the worksheets have errors and may appear to not be accurate, however changing the math would change the information agreed upon and certified by the caucusgoers."

McCormally argued that the only recourse would be for a campaign to seek a recount, which would require a review of all "presidential preference cards" filled out by caucusgoers.

Sanders senior adviser Jeff Weaver told Politico that the campaign would consider a recount if the math was "wrong." However, several caucus chairs said not all voters turned in their preference cards, according to The Times.

Sanders told CNN the caucuses have been a "disgrace" and an "embarrassment."

"They screwed it up badly is what the Iowa Democratic Party did," he said.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez, who also called for a partial recanvass of the results, told CNN that he was "mad as hell" about what happened in Iowa and suggested that the state could lose its first-in-the-nation status when pressed on the issue by host Jake Tapper.

"Well, that's the conversation that will absolutely happen after this election cycle," he said. "And after the last election cycle, we had a conversation about two really important things: Super delegate reform and the primary caucus issue that we're discussing now. And that's going to happen again."

By Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is Salon's managing editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

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