What is a recanvass? How Iowa Democrats had to review caucus data

The Iowa Democratic Party on Tuesday released updated information from the Iowa Democratic caucuses after concerns about the accuracy of information being reported caused the chairman of the Democratic National Committee called for a recanvass. 

A what?

A recanvass is essentially a review of the caucus results in each county. At the end of every caucus, the precinct chair completes a “caucus math worksheet” which lists the first and final alignment numbers, as well as the county delegates for each candidate. 

In a recanvass, representatives for the Iowa Democratic Party audit these worksheets for every precinct and satellite caucus, checking that the numbers match what was reported through the app or telephone line. But the process would not correct errors in the math, and party officials have said publicly that the only opportunity to correct the math would be a recount.

The campaigns of both former mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Bernie Sanders had requested a recanvass of certain results. 

The requests covered 82 caucus-night precincts and all 61 in-state satellite caucus sites. The party also reviewed another 95 precincts prior to the formal recanvass requests.

A recanvass is not a recount, which is essentially a re-tallying of votes.

Iowa caucuses explained:What is a delegate equivalent? Or a viability threshold? 

The Iowa Democratic caucus results were delayed by a glitch in an app that caucus sites were using to report information to the party, as well as jammed results-reporting phone lines and other problems, including the release of inaccurate data. Perez made his call for a recanvass as those details continued to mount. The head of the state party resigned from his position Feb. 12.

The Iowa Democratic Party prepared a 21-page caucus recanvass and recount manual ahead of this year’s caucusing, detailing how campaigns can go about requesting a recanvass and under what circumstances.

“Requests must present credible evidence suggesting that results were misreported or erroneously counted,” the manual said.

A committee would validate the requests, according to the manual, and include the cost “assessed to the candidate in order to complete the recanvass.”

In a recount, party officials use the preference cards that caucusgoers filled out outlining their first and second choices in the room on caucus night and rerun all the math in each individual precinct.

The Associated Press reported Tuesday that Sanders’ campaign plans to ask for a partial recount of the Iowa caucus results.

Contributing: Associated Press and The Des Moines Register

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