Las Vegas Sun

May 26, 2024

Damon Political Report

Nevada GOP dealing with ‘trouble box’ of questionable ballots

caucus counting

Karoun Demirjian

Volunteers count caucus ballots for the second consecutive day at Clark County GOP headquarters in Las Vegas on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2012.

Nevada Caucus Count

Volunteers count and record caucus totals at Clark County GOP headquarters Sunday morning. Launch slideshow »

Republican Party officials are trying to figure out how to deal with a “trouble box” of ballots from the presidential caucus Sunday as the count in Nevada’s largest county stretches into its second day.

Party officials have confirmed that ballots in multiple precincts exceeded the number of voters who signed in. The “trouble box” also includes ballots on which two candidates were marked and other irregularities.

David Gallagher, executive director of the state party, could not confirm or even give a rough estimate of the number of ballots in question.

“It’s a small number,” he said.

Party officials spent much of the morning in a closed-door meeting with campaign officials to discuss the process for counting the ballots and determine what to do with the ballot box.

A procedure for dealing with the “trouble box” will be agreed upon by party and campaign officials, Gallagher said. He and other party officials acknowledged that some of the precincts may be “thrown out.”

“Obviously we want to count as many ballots as possible,” Gallagher said. “We want people’s voices to be heard.”

Campaign officials have not commented on the process.

“Right now, no one is suing us,” Gallagher said, adding officials have found no evidence of fraud. The count discrepancies could be the result of late arrivals who received a ballot but didn't sign in.

As of 1 p.m., 70 percent of the ballots had been counted statewide.

The race has been called for Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who had a 6,199 vote lead in the early count.

The count in Clark County is not expected to affect Romney’s victory, but it could determine which candidate comes in second place.

According to partial returns, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was leading U.S. Rep. Ron Paul by 1,004 votes.

Nevada’s national delegates are awarded in proportion to the vote each candidate received in the caucuses—making an accurate determination of who comes in second critical as Gingrich and Paul fight to collect enough delegates to continue competing with Romney for the nomination.

The ballot count stalled early Sunday as the problem ballots were discovered and party volunteers worked to verify numbers by hand. They resumed counting shortly after the meeting between party and campaign officials ended.

“We are going to get this right,” Clark County Chairman David Gibbs told the Las Vegas Sun earlier today. “If it takes us a little bit of time to get it rights, we are going to take the time.”

Nevada is the second state to experience problems with its caucus counts. Last month, Iowa declared Romney the victor of its first-in-the-nation contest by just eight votes. After a final tally, however, they discovered former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum had actually won by 34 votes.

As the counting continued the party line was: “We’re not going to be Iowa!”

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