DES MOINES - U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders submitted Monday a list of 25 precincts and three satellite caucus locations he wants reviewed, arguing if corrected it could tilt national delegates at stake in his favor.
The Iowa Democratic Party set a deadline of noon Monday for a recanvass request. It extended the deadline to request a recanvass after a cascade of events - from a malfunctioning reporting app and overwhelmed call center to apparent errors in the data - delayed a release of preliminary results until several days after the caucus itself.
"While a recanvass is just the first step in the process and we don't expect it to change the current calculations, it is a necessary part of making sure Iowans can trust the final results of the caucus," Bernie 2020 senior adviser Jeff Weaver said in a statement. "Our volunteers and supporters worked too hard, and too many people participated for the first time to have the results depend on calculations that even the party admits are incorrect. Once the recanvass and a subsequent recount are completed in these precincts, we feel confident we will be awarded the extra national delegate our volunteers and grassroots donors earned."
After Sanders campaign made the request, a similar request came in from former mayor Pete Buttigieg's campaign.
The preliminary results reported by the party show Buttigieg with a narrow lead over Sanders in state delegate equivalents and delegates to the Democratic National Convention, where the party's presidential nominee will be formally selected this summer.
Buttigieg said in his letter, obtained by the Des Moines Register, that his recanvass request is based on reporting discrepancies, calculation/math errors and a reporting and calculation error in how state delegate equivalents were awarded to in-state satellite caucuses. State delegate equivalents, or SDEs, are used to calculate the winner of Iowa's Democratic caucus.
In his letter, Buttigieg acknowledged that the Sanders campaign planned to seek an audit. Since the Democrats' rules say the party will only recanvass precincts for which it has requests, "we are compelled to submit a recanvass request of our own."
According to the Sanders campaign, mathematical errors and inconsistencies in tabulations give Buttigieg too many state delegates and Sanders too few - enough to make a difference in the ultimate Iowa winner.
"These errors and inconsistencies are ripe for review because their correction would change the national delegate allocation by moving, at a minimum, one (national pledged) delegate from Mayor Buttigieg to my campaign," Sanders wrote in a letter to Iowa Democratic Party Chair Troy Price.
Between Sanders' and Buttigieg's campaigns, the party has received requests to recanvass about 85 of Iowa's nearly 1,700 precincts.
A recanvass is a hand-audit of caucus math worksheets and reporting forms to ensure they were tallied and reported correctly. However, Price has said that the final results reported by precinct chairs - even with glaring errors in the underlying math - are legally binding, limiting what changes the party can make.
"The math worksheet is actually a legal document," Price said at a Friday news conference. "It's signed by the precinct chair and the precinct captains, the campaign representatives in those precincts. And so we are not allowed to change that. We have to report out what's reported to us."
The Iowa Democratic Party has 48 hours to accept or reject the request. If it accepts the campaign's request, it will give an anticipated timeline for review and estimated cost to the candidate for the review.
That would almost certainly move back final results from Iowa's first-in-the-nation nominating contest to after the results of New Hampshire's second-in-the-nation contest, a primary election, are known. The New Hampshire vote is on Tuesday.
The Associated Press, used by multiple news organizations to call election winners, has said since Feb. 3 caucus that the Iowa race was too close to call. On Monday, a week after Iowans caucuses, it still could not determine a winner.
"Even when the vote count in Iowa does come to an end, it may not be fully accurate," said David Scott, a deputy managing editor at AP who oversees the cooperative's coverage of polling and elections. "We continue to see irregularities in the results provided by the Iowa Democratic Party and unless they are resolved, we will remain unable to call the race."