Discrepancies In Campus GOP Votes Lead To Recount

This story was written by Jake Grovum, Liz Riggs, Minnesota Daily
A large discrepancy exists between presidential preference votes cast at the GOP caucuses held Tuesday night at Ford Hall and those reported to the Secretary of State.

According to the Secretary of State's results for the precincts in question, a total of 84 votes were cast on Tuesday.

But those in attendance say the number of votes was almost four times that many, based on the results that were announced in the room that evening.

The night of the caucus, three volunteers announced the results of the poll and each candidate's percentage, and ballots were counted in front of participants. In total, 317 presidential preference votes were submitted Tuesday night.

Three separate precincts were set to hold caucuses in Ford Hall that night in the same classroom, but there was no separation by precinct of the votes cast, making it unclear which votes belonged to which precinct.

Regardless of whether the votes were separated, the total number of votes reported to the Secretary of State falls 233 votes short of the number counted Tuesday night.

Business marketing and education senior Tom Druk said he remembers the straw poll results clearly.

"I believe they announced there were 95 votes for McCain," he said. "He took 33 percent of the vote, so it must be close to 300 (total votes)."

Political science sophomore Chris Hodge, who was also in attendance, estimated there were well over 300 participants in attendance.

Barry Hickethier, chairman of 23 precincts in northeast and southeast Minneapolis, including those held in Ford Hall, said he spoke with the caucus convener about the results.

"I think he got confused on that," he said, referring to the need to count votes and report individual precincts separately.

Hickethier attributed the confusion to the overwhelming turnout at Ford Hall.

Hickethier said he would recount the votes Wednesday night, but any handling of the results would need to be dealt with by the GOP.

"If the numbers are truly completely jumbled, I will have to talk to the state party and see how they would do it," he said. "We'll do what we can to rectify it."

Minnesota GOP spokesman Mark Drake said the party simply reports the numbers given to them and this was the first that party officials had heard of any discrepancies.

"We trust they're accurate," he said. "I don't know what happened."
© 2008 Minnesota Daily via U-WIRE
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