Sanders wins crucial extra delegate in Colorado after Democratic mistake went unreported

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders. © Brian Snyder
Bernie Sanders easily won the Colorado caucus in March, but a mistake made by the Democratic Party awarded the Vermont senator one less delegate than he actually earned – and the party didn’t bother telling the Sanders campaign about the error.

Originally, it was projected that Sanders – who won the Democratic caucus against Hillary Clinton by a tally of 60 percent to 40 percent – would earn 38 delegates compared to Clinton’s 28. After tallying Clinton’s support from 10 Colorado superdelegates, the former secretary of state tied Sanders 38-38 in delegates. If she won the support of the last two state superdelegates, Clinton could have actually won Colorado despite losing the primary vote by 20 points.

However, the Denver Post uncovered what Colorado Democratic Party Chairman Rick Palacio called “a reporting error on caucus night” that led the party to underreport Sanders’ support in 10 precincts from Denver County by almost four percent. This led to projections showing Clinton would tie Sanders in delegates from that district instead of giving Sanders a two-delegate edge.

"It was an embarrassment on our part for sure," Palacio told the newspaper. "Whomever dialed the numbers in must have had a little weirdness happen. The official results were reported correctly, but when they dialed them in using the touch-tone, it looks like something got transposed."

With the mistake now accounted for, Sanders is projected to win 39 delegates from the primary while Clinton’s number drops to 27. It’s still possible that Clinton will win all the superdelegates, though many are facing pressure to back Sanders now that the primary results are in. However, even if she sweeps their support, the worst outcome for Sanders would now be a tie instead of a loss.

If Sanders wins the support of just one superdelegate, he could win the state’s delegation.

The counting error was discovered by the Democrats about a week after the caucus, the Denver Post reported, yet the party did not announce the news to the public or the Sanders campaign. The only people it did inform were in the Clinton camp. The website featuring party results still shows the old, incorrect tallies from Denver County.

According to Palacio, the website isn’t used for official purposes, only for “reporting to the press.”

He said he didn’t tell the Sanders campaign about the mistake because "it didn't necessarily affect [them]. It was our mistake that ended up affecting the estimation on Hillary's campaign."

The Sanders camp was unaware of the situation until the Post informed them about it.

News of the mistake comes just a day after the Republican Party was engulfed in a controversy of its own in Colorado. The state party decided in August to eliminate the presidential straw poll at its 2016 caucuses, instead opting to simply elect delegates who could support any candidate they wanted. As a result, delegates were chosen at caucuses decided primarily by “party insiders and activists,” according to a Denver Post report, while 90 percent of GOP voters in the state had no say.

The new rules left the process more open to intense lobbying by the presidential campaigns, and Texas Senator Ted Cruz managed to sweep all Colorado’s 34 delegates in the process. GOP frontrunner Donald Trump and his supporters were furious.

“How is it possible that the people of the great State of Colorado never got to vote in the Republican Primary? Great anger - totally unfair!” Trump tweeted.

“The people of Colorado had their vote taken away from them by the phony politicians.