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The Iowa Democratic Party wrapped up its recount, but the Sanders campaign — and AP — remain unsatisfied


Iowa City High School on Caucus Night. Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

The Iowa Democratic Party (IDP) published the results of its limited recount of caucus results on Thursday night, and although the recount corrected errors founded in 19 of the 23 precincts it examined, the IDP said those corrections did not change the previously announced number of delegates awarded to each candidate.

On Feb. 10, a week after the caucus night, the IDP announced its allocation of the 41 delegates it is sending to the Democratic National Convention. Pete Buttigieg received 13; Sen. Bernie Sanders, 12; Sen. Elizabeth Warren, 8; Joe Biden, 6; and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, 1. The allocation had been delayed due to the collapse of the precinct results reporting system on Caucus Night.

Even though Sanders had the most supporters in the final alignment of the caucus — 2,443 more than Buttigieg — the former South Bend mayor led Sanders by 0.04 percentage points in the final calculation of state delegate equivalents (SDEs). SDEs determine the final allocation of delegates to the national convention, and IDP rules give greater weight to rural precincts, where Buttigieg did better than Sanders, in awarded SDEs.

The Sanders campaign requested a recanvass of precinct results — which is a reexamination of caucus precinct math worksheets, and a necessary step before requesting a recount >of presidential preference cards — on Feb. 10, after the IDP announced the first version of its completed results. When the results of the recanvass were published on Feb. 18, the Sanders campaign requested a recount. The Buttigieg campaign also submitted requests for a recanvass and a recount after the Sanders campaign did.

Kids occupy themselves in the City High cafeteria on Caucus Night. Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

Shortly after the IDP released the recount results, Politico reported the Sanders campaign filed a challenge with the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

“We have already filed an implementation challenge with the DNC stating that the Iowa Democratic Party conducted its recanvass and recount in a way that violated their delegate selection plan,” said Jeff Weaver, a senior campaign adviser to the Vermont senator.

According to Politico, “the campaign’s challenge — which was filed with the DNC before the recount results were announced — argued that Buttigieg should not have been able to ask for a recount or recanvass. The Sanders campaign argued that the state party’s delegate selection plan only allows for a recanvass or recount request if the request would change the allocation of a national delegate. They argued that Buttigieg’s recount request did not meet that criteria.”

The DNC has not yet issued a statement about the Sanders challenge. The Buttigieg campaign gave a statement Thursday, but did not address Sanders.

“Yet again, these results confirm Pete won the Iowa caucuses,” the statement said.

The Associated Press, however, is not convinced.

For decades, news organizations and readers across the world have relied on the AP’s reporting to determine who could be legitimately described as the winner of the Iowa Caucus. On Feb. 7, Sally Buzbee, the AP’s senior vice president and executive editor said the news service could not declare a winner.

“The Associated Press calls a race when there is a clear indication of a winner. Because of a tight margin between former Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Bernie Sanders and the irregularities in this year’s caucus process, it is not possible to determine a winner at this point,” she explained.

In its story on the recount results, the AP reaffirmed Buzbee’s decision.

The Associated Press has reviewed the updated results and will not call a winner, given remaining concerns about whether the results as reported by the party are fully accurate. The Feb. 3 caucuses were beset by technical glitches that led to a delay in reporting the results, inconsistencies in the numbers and no clear winner.

Because the recount only looked at 23 of the more than 1,700 caucus precincts, it didn’t address many of the inconsistencies various reporters and analysts have identified.

The IDP’s State Central Committee will meet on Saturday and finally vote on whether to certify the results of the Feb. 3 caucus. If it does so, Buttigieg will be awarded another national delegate as winner of the caucus.


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