Rod Boshart, The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa –
DES MOINES — Gov. Terry Branstad on Friday gave his vote of confidence to the Republican Party of Iowa’s caucus process, saying party officials did “all they could do” to ensure balloting was fair and secure.
Branstad said he believes any potential discrepancies in Tuesday’s results will be clarified when the 1,774 precinct tallies are certified later this month.
“We’ll probably never have a race that’s this close. This was phenomenal,” Branstad said. Unofficial results announced early Wednesday placed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in first with the support of 30,015 caucus voters, just eight ballots more than former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. The race drew a record 122,255 participants.
“I think the party did a great job and I’m sure that they’re going to review and verify all the results,” the governor said Friday. “I know there have been some questions asked in some counties and I’m sure the party will do what they can to make sure that the results are certified.”
Branstad was responding to concerns raised by a Moulton man, Edward L. True, a supporter of Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who has filed a notarized statement claiming Santorum is the real winner and that there was an error in the caucus results from Appanoose County. According to True, the number of votes Romney received from Washington Wells Precinct was inflated by 20 when recorded by the state GOP.
GOP Chairman Matt Strawn said party officials have not finished certifying Tuesday’s vote totals as provided by party rules, but they have been in contact with Appanoose County Republicans and “we do not have any reason to believe that the final certified result” will change the outcome of this week’s vote. He said party rules provide for a two-week certification process and GOP officials will announce the final, official results when process has been completed.
Branstad said Iowa Republicans worked with Google to ensure a secure reporting system. He also noted that representatives for each competing presidential campaign were briefed on the party’s procedures and monitored the tallying process at precinct locations. He said that was true at his home precinct in Boone County on Tuesday night.
“This was the best it’s ever been done,” the governor said.
“It’s not easy when you have volunteers at all these sites around the state. But I think they did a phenomenal job,” he added. “I think they did all they could to try to make sure it was very fair and secure.”
Branstad said Iowa’s role as the lead-off state in the presidential nominating process is to winnow the field of candidates — often to the top three finishers, although this year five GOP contenders who actively competed in the statewide caucuses are still in the race.
“We’ve always said about Iowa it’s not necessarily about who wins, it’s about winnowing the field and the top three were clearly ahead of the others,” Branstad said.