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Buttigieg campaign claims 'irregularities' in Nevada caucus results

Image: Pete Buttigieg arrives for a roundtable with environmental activists
Pete Buttigieg arrives for a roundtable with environmental activists and Native American leaders in Las Vegas on Feb. 21, 2020. Copyright Eric Thayer Reuters
Copyright Eric Thayer Reuters
By Vaughn Hillyard and Priscilla Thompson with NBC News Politics
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A Nevada Democratic Party spokeswoman said that officials were "continuing to verify and to report result."


CHARLESTON, S.C. — Pete Buttigieg's campaign is questioning the results of Nevada's Democratic caucus, alleging anomalies in data and errors in reporting.

"Given how close the race is between second and third place, we ask that you take these steps before releasing any final data," the campaign wrote late Saturday in a letter to the Nevada State Democratic Party.

Molly Forgey, a party spokeswoman, said that the officials were "continuing to verify and to report results," adding, "As laid out in our recount guidance, there is a formal method for requesting a challenge of results."

With over half of Saturday's results reported by the party as of Sunday afternoon, Buttigieg advisers maintain that the former mayor will finish in second, or closer to second than the results currently indicate, after the full and accurate accounting of results.

"Currently our data shows that this is a razor-thin margin for second place in Nevada, and due to irregularities and a number of unresolved questions we have raised with the Nevada Democratic Party, it's unclear what the final results will be," Deputy Campaign Manager Hari Sevugan said in a statement.

Former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign manager tweeted on Saturday night that the former vice president would finish with a "strong second" in Nevada. Minutes later, the Buttigieg campaign fired back, suggesting its own tabulations of data from across the state showed a closer race.

"Not from what we're seeing," Buttigieg strategist Michael Halle tweeted.

Saturday's letter outlines what the campaign views as a number of discrepancies around how early voting numbers were factored into caucus day results. Allegations include that in some locations early vote data from the wrong precinct was used and, in others, the early vote totals were allocated to the wrong candidate.

Following 2016 caucuses, the Democratic National Committee required state parties operating caucuses, including in Iowa and Nevada, to report more transparent numbers out of caucus locations. But in Iowa, tech issues with a mobile app intended to help transfer and tabulate data in Iowa delayed the final outcome of the Feb. 3 contest. An NBC News review of the Iowa results found that the data was rife with potential errors and inconsistencies.

The Nevada Democratic Party scrapped its plans to use the same app following the issues in Iowa. Forgey, the Nevada Democratic Party spokeswoman, asserted the delay in reporting Saturday's results was due to the additional requirements by the national party.

"Results aren't going to come through as quickly as in the past because the party is processing and reporting three sets of data this cycle instead of one for additional transparency as required by DNC rules," Forgey said.

The party is also continuing to process more than 70,000 early ballots.

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