Republicans are pressuring their party’s leaders for a recount of Mitt Romney’s narrow victory over Ron Paul in Maine’s closely watched Republican caucuses. And some say it may be time to get rid of Maine’s quirky process for selecting presidential candidates and switch to conventional primary elections – with voting booths and counting machines. “If we are to do a primary, we need to bring that up before the Legislature,” said Kim Pettengill, a Republican State Committee member representing Kennebec County. “I, for one, am going to see if we can do that, (and) I’ve talked to other people who feel the same way.”
The close race between Romney and Paul and the high stakes for both men drew national attention to Maine’s caucuses, which culminated Saturday with the announcement of Romney’s victory. He had 39 percent of the nonbinding vote to Paul’s 36 percent, according to the official count. But the attention has since focused on counting errors, underreporting by some communities and a decision not to count voting that was postponed by snow in Washington County.
The party’s state chairman said he is confident that a recount would not change the results. However, the problems are reinforcing suspicions about the caucus system that existed long before this year’s voting was complete. At Westbrook’s caucus Feb. 5, for example, Ron Paul’s supporters made a motion to require the chairwoman of the meeting to hold on to the ballots so they could inspect them later and verify the count. A group of Romney supporters made a similar motion at a different caucus, said Charlie Webster, chairman of the Maine Republican Party.