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Des Moines Register calls for audit of Iowa Democratic caucuses

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's victory over Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., by a mere 0.2 percent has raised concerns about the accuracy of the Democratic caucus process.

By
Ann Marie Awad
Supporters listen to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders at a campaign stop at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa. Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI
Supporters listen to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders at a campaign stop at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa. Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI | License Photo

DES MOINES, Iowa, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- After a close call in the Iowa Democratic caucuses, the largest newspaper in the state is calling on the state Democratic party to audit the results, calling it a "debacle."

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's victory over Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., by a mere 0.2 percent has raised concerns about the accuracy of the Democratic caucus process.

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In an editorial published Thursday titled "Something smells in the Democratic party," the Des Moines Register said several members of its editorial board witnessed "opportunities for error" during Monday's caucuses.

The editors called for an immediate review of the vote count and for the party to break with tradition and release the raw vote totals to the campaigns, writing: "The Iowa Democratic Party must act quickly to assure the accuracy of the caucus results, beyond a shadow of a doubt."

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The editorial cites Clinton's razor-thin victory as too close "not to do a complete audit of results."

The Register cites conflicting reports of coin-toss decisions in several precincts, inconsistent head counts, untrained and "overwhelmed" volunteers, cramped locations, confused voters and other issues that introduced opportunities for error.

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The paper also called on the Iowa Democratic Party to assemble a commission to improve the Democratic caucus process, as the Iowa Republican Party did in 2012.

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The Register editorial comes after Sanders raised questions about the head counts in some Iowa precincts. Members of Sanders' campaign said in some cases, his staff's numbers did not match up with those reported to the state party. He had asked to see the Iowa Democratic Party's numbers, a request which Chairwoman Andy McGuire refused.

The two parties caucus differently. While Republicans conduct simple straw polls, Democrats conduct multiple headcounts, then enter the final numbers into a complex math formula that takes into account a precinct's past voting history.

Sanders has already conceded defeat in Iowa, but still says he wants to have a look at the numbers.

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