Bernie Sanders campaign claims votes not properly counted following narrow Hillary Clinton victory in Iowa caucus

The Iowa Democratic Party dismissed allegations partisan campaign teams counted the result

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The Independent US

Bernie Sanders supporters have claimed that votes for Democratic Presidential candidates in Iowa were not properly counted as controversy continues about Hillary Clinton’s extremely narrow victory.

The Secretary of State won 49.9 per cent of the vote, with Mr Sanders – a senator from Vermont – finishing with 49.6 per cent.

But initial rounding of the results put them on half each, causing Mr Sanders to claim a “virtual tie” with his more prominent rival.

Iowa Caucuses - Sanders' post-result speech

His aides contacted The Hill, an American political newspaper, to claim that 90 caucus voting sites were inadequately staffed by “impartial” chairmen and women.

Relying on possibly conflicting figures from partisan aides could lead to further disputes over the result, but the Iowa Democratic Party said results would not be taken from campaign teams.

Instead of using paper ballots for caucuses, the Democrats invite supporters to physically cluster together and be counted by precinct chairs – a practice that makes re-counts impossible.

“You will have the ability to stand with your neighbours in support of your preferred candidate, or to declare yourself as uncommitted,” the official caucus website states.

“This is as simple as walking toward the corner of the room that’s been reserved for your candidate.”

Footage from election night showed some votes between Mrs Clinton and Mr Sanders being so close they were decided by a coin toss, which is the Democrats’ official method of deciding a tie.

Mrs Clinton won coin tosses in at least five precincts, the Des Moines Register reported.

The Iowa Democratic Party fended off accusations of unfairness, acknowledging the caucus was “historically close”. 

Hillary for America’s Iowa state director, Matt Paul, said there was “no uncertainty” over the results and no missing information.

“After thorough reporting – and analysis – of results, there is no uncertainty and Secretary Clinton has clearly won the most national and state delegates,” he added. 

“Statistically, there is no outstanding information that could change the results and no way that Senator Sanders can overcome Secretary Clinton’s advantage.”

Mrs Clinton has been considered the Democratic Presidential front-runner but the result raises doubts over her ability to unite the party.

Her campaign against Barack Obama also ran off the rails in Iowa in 2008 and her campaign will be hoping that the state caucuses to follow will show stronger support.

But Mr Sanders has been leading in opinion polls in New Hampshire, which will be the next state to hold its primary on 9 February.

Additional reporting by Reuters