Romney’s Maine Victory Facing Increasing Doubts

Wednesday, 15 Feb 2012 11:58 AM

By Martin Gould

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Mitt Romney’s victory in the Maine GOP caucuses is coming under increasing doubt after the discovery that votes in several towns in the state were completely ignored in the final tally.

According to official figures released Saturday after 84 percent of the precincts had reported, Romney beat Ron Paul by just 194 votes.

But Republicans in several towns still must meet and others were not included in the final count, reports the Bangor Daily News.

Caucuses in Washington, the state’s easternmost county, which were scheduled for last Saturday were postponed for a week due to an expected  snowstorm. “We chose to put safety over politics,” county party chairman Chris Gardner told Slate.

Gardner said he called the state party about the storm and was told he was doing the right thing by postponing the meetings, and he is only now learning that the county’s vote may not count.

Paul supporters are pushing a get-out-the vote campaign in Washington County, which now plans to vote this Saturday. Whether the final tally will be amended to include the county’s results is not known.

“I’ve made known my position that those votes should count and the [Republican] chair said he would take it to the state committee,” Maine Senate President Kevin Raye, who comes from Washington County, told the Daily News.

There were problems elsewhere. Vote totals from Waldo County were not included in the official results, reported the Daily News, even though the county’s party chairman, Raymond St. Onge, said results had been submitted on Tuesday last week.

St. Onge said he was told the omission was due to a clerical error. “I’m going to believe them because there were other errors that occurred. I don’t think it was intentional because our results wouldn’t have changed the winner.”

The problems in Maine follow controversies with both the Iowa caucuses – where Romney was initially declared the winner only to have the totals overturned weeks later in favor of Rick Santorum – and those in Nevada, where results were delayed.

Now the future of state caucuses could be up in the air. Gardner told Slate, “I'm a big fan of primaries. I hope that either one of two things happens. Either the state party learns a lot from this and we never suffer through it again, or the state party pushes to get a primary set up in Maine.

“Each vote should count. Maybe that should be done through a primary system.”

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