8:56 p.m. | Updated Iowa’s Republican chairman said on Saturday that the vote count from a disputed precinct had been deemed official by the Iowa Republican Party, despite multiple accounts of a vote-counting discrepancy that could potentially have made Rick Santorum the winner of the Iowa caucuses.
The disputed precinct is in Appanoose County, which has already submitted its certification forms, the chairman, Matt Strawn, said in a statement to The New York Times.
“Appanoose County has submitted all its required Form E’s for all precincts in Appanoose County,” Mr. Strawn wrote in an e-mail to The Times, referring to the form by which the Republican Party of Iowa certifies its votes on a county-by-county basis. “Now that we have all the county’s forms at Iowa G.O.P. HQ for the two-week certification process, my statement from Thursday night still applies: While we will not comment on specific precinct vote totals during the two-week certification process of 1,774 precincts, the results of the Appanoose County precincts will not change the outcome of Tuesday’s vote.”
The dispute originated when a caucusgoer, Edward True, said in an affidavit that Mitt Romney had been recorded as receiving 22 votes in his precinct, called Washington Wells, when he had in fact received just two votes there on caucus night. Mr. True is a supporter of Representative Ron Paul.
The Des Moines Register reported on Friday that Lyle Brinegar, the chair of the Republican Party in Appanoose County, agreed with Mr. True’s account of the vote count and disputed the total listed by the state party.
A third person, Terri Haub, the precinct secretary, also agreed with Mr. True’s account, The Des Moines Register reported.
The alleged 20-vote discrepancy could have potentially swung the victory to Rick Santorum, who trailed Mr. Romney by eight votes statewide based on the state’s initial count. Mr. Romney’s victory in the caucuses is still not official, because some counties have yet to submit their certification forms. But because Appanoose County is among those counties that had completed their forms, its results are considered official and are not subject to change.
“The Form E’s are the official record of the presidential preference vote for each of the 1,774 precincts,” Mr. Strawn said in the e-mail. “The Form E is signed and verified by the precinct chair and precinct secretary, while presidential campaign representatives on-site have the ability to observe and witness this process. The final, certified vote totals will be based on the Form E’s.”
Mr. Strawn would not say what determination the party had come to about the specific dispute; his statement implies that changes from Appanoose County as a whole would not be enough to change the outcome.
Iowa’s caucus rules are set by the state parties, and there is no provision for a recount.
Mr. Santorum said he had little interest in pursuing a debate about the official totals when interviewed by The Times on Thursday. A spokesman for Mr. Santorum, Hogan Gidley, said on Saturday that the campaign was extremely satisfied with the results in Iowa.
“We’re following it,” Mr. Gidley said of the vote-counting dispute. “But we spent $30,000 on ads in Iowa. Five votes, eight votes, 20 votes, we consider it a win.”
In an interview with Fox News on Thursday, Mr. Santorum said that there might be multiple discrepancies in the vote-counting that might have the effect of cancelling one another out.
In a separate issue, Mr. Strawn told The Times that there were no uncounted votes from eight precincts that were listed on the state’s spreadsheet as having had zero voters in the Republican caucuses.
Two small precincts, Portland in Kossouth County and Indian Settlement in Tama County, in fact had no Republican voters on Jan. 3. The other six precincts conducted caucuses. But their results were submitted to the state together with another precinct in their counties, and their votes have always been accounted for, Mr. Strawn said in the e-mail.
Micah Cohen contributed reporting.