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DES MOINES, Iowa – Typically, a few typos scattered among the 99 counties of the Iowa caucus don’t make much of a difference in the final tally, but when only 8 votes separate the leading contenders, those typos might mean that Rick Santorum, and not declared winner Mitt Romney, was actually the victor in the first-in-the-nation caucus.
“We think when all the votes are counted and certified,” Santorum’s Iowa Coalitions Director Jamie Johnson told WND, “this thing may go Santorum’s way.”
The Republican Party of Iowa is nearly finished with certification of the caucus results, and officials have already admitted the numbers have changed since Romney declared, “A win is a win.”
Iowa GOP Executive Director Chad Olsen told the Des Moines Register that both Santorum and Romney’s totals – 30,007 to 30,015, respectfully – have shifted.
“It happened in both directions,” Olsen said of the results changing. “It’s been completely random.”
The confusion – and the potential for Santorum to yet overtake Romney – stems from how the results are reported. On caucus night, Iowa’s 1,774 individual precincts phone in or electronically submit their results, which are then tallied to give the news media a quicker estimation of who won the evening.
But those phone-in results are not final, and they carry plenty of room for human error.
On caucus night, each precinct’s official results are also recorded, witnessed by campaign monitors and signed by the precinct chairs and secretaries on a written “Form E,” which is then sent to the county, which forwards the forms to party headquarters. In Des Moines, GOP Data Director Patrick Stewart then compares the Form Es to the call-in reports, and where there are discrepancies, the Form Es – and not the results the media reported – are declared official.
When Stewart finishes his work and the final tally is announced later this week, Santorum may yet end up the victor.
“Iowa’s not done yet. They’re recounting those ballots right now,” Santorum said in a South Carolina campaign stop, Politico reports. “So hold on.”
Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn told the Register that 95 of Iowa’s 99 counties have submitted their Form Es, while the remaining 4 counties only have until tomorrow at 5:00 p.m. to get their results certified. Apparently, three of the counties claim their Form Es are in the mail, while the fourth is expected to hand-deliver its results.
Party officials have said they won’t give any updates on the changing vote totals until the certification is complete, but Strawn told the Register he would release the certified results as soon as possible, most likely by Friday.
Yet even if Santorum is declared the winner of the caucus, it won’t determine Iowa’s contribution to who becomes the GOP presidential nominee.
The Iowa caucus, like the Ames Straw Poll, is merely a party event and has no bearing on the selection of Iowa’s delegates to the August Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., which selects the GOP presidential nominee. Iowa’s national delegates are chosen instead at the Republican State Convention.