AUGUSTA — The Maine Republican Party is recounting the results of its presidential caucus poll and may add the votes of Washington County party members to the official results, its chairman said Thursday.

Mitt Romney was declared the winner last Saturday, leading Ron Paul by 194 votes out of 5,585 according to the official results at the time.

But the number did not include results from the Washington County caucus, which was postponed until this Saturday because of a snowstorm.

In addition, the vote totals from several communities, including Waterville and much of Waldo County, were left out of the official count because of clerical or computer errors. Some other community vote totals were entered incorrectly.

Maine Republican Party Chairman Charlie Webster said he called a meeting of the party’s executive committee Thursday in response to the pressure from frustrated party activists who wanted all votes counted.

“All Republicans are keenly aware of the intense interest in the results of the Maine Republican Party Presidential Preference Poll,” Webster said in a written statement.

The executive committee recommended that Washington County’s votes get added to official count, but left the final decision to the full state committee. The full committee is scheduled to meet March 10.

Webster said in an interview late Thursday that the results from the rest of the state should be corrected and updated on the state GOP website by sometime Friday. That means it will be easy for Republicans and others to see for themselves whether the Washington County vote could change the outcome of the vote.

“We’ve been checking and calling and making them all accurate” before posting corrected numbers, Webster said. “We just want to make sure (party members) see their vote is counted.”

Webster said he expected the verified numbers to be posted today.

An email sent to county and town chairmen Thursday afternoon asked the local officials to resubmit vote totals to state headquarters.

“We are confirming the totals from the presidential preference straw poll,” the email says. “Can you please email me the totals from your towns?”

“The results of the Washington County caucus will be reviewed at the March 10 Republican State Committee meeting,” Webster said in his written statement. “The Executive Committee voted unanimously to recommend to the State Committee that they include the (Washington County) results in the final tally for the Presidential Preference Poll as their caucus had been scheduled to occur by the February 11 deadline, however it was postponed due to inclement weather.”

Party leaders around the state have been getting calls from members angry about the handling of the vote, which drew national attention to Maine’s usually low-key caucuses.

Kim Pettengill, state GOP committeewoman from Kennebec County, said she also has been getting calls and emails from angry party members, in part because Waterville’s vote totals have still not been added to the official vote totals posted by the party.

“The idea that they’ve allowed incorrect numbers to be on the website for four days is unacceptable to me,” she said.

The Maine caucuses became a national story when both Romney and Paul campaigned in Maine, even visiting the same caucus in Sanford last Saturday. Romney was looking to stop a three-state losing streak, and Paul was hoping to win his first state.

Maine’s caucus vote is typically an afterthought. The vote is a non-binding poll of the people who attend caucuses. Republican convention delegates will decide in May who to support, although they generally follow the wishes of the party’s members.

John Richardson — 620-7016

[email protected]

 


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