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February 18. 2012 9:59PM

Maine recount keeps Romney on top, but new results likely to fan flames

WASHINGTON — According to a recount by the state Republican party, Mitt Romney has increased his lead over Ron Paul to 239 votes in the Maine Republican caucuses.

But the new results likely won't quell the outrage or suspicion that has engulfed the Maine GOP since Saturday because so many questions still remain.

On Saturday, Mitt Romney was declared the winner, beating Ron Paul by 194 votes out of 5,585 cast, according to the state GOP. But the numbers did not include the vote totals from several communities, including Waterville and much of Waldo County, because of computer or clerical errors, Maine GOP chairman Charlie Webster said.

Other communities' vote totals were entered incorrectly, he said, and Washington County's caucuses weren't included in the original totals after being postponed until this Saturday because of a snowstorm.

Webster said they've now added up all the votes from Maine except from Washington County, but the new numbers will likely only increase suspicion among Paul's supporters and Webster's detractors.

It turns out Paul won many of the communities that hadn't previously been counted. Paul beat Romney 21 to 5 in Waterville, according to the new GOP data.

Paul also beat Romney 72 to 59 in Waldo County. But the vote tallies were revised enough in other towns to add to Romney's lead, according to the new data.

In Limington, Paul originally received 20 votes. But after the recount, Paul received zero votes. In Portland, Paul originally beat Romney 106-91. But after the recount, Romney beat Paul 106-91.

In Bar Harbor, the GOP originally said 22 people voted. But after the recount, it said 27 voted and the five extra votes went to Romney.

In Trenton, the GOP originally said 15 people voted. But after the recount, it said 20 voted and all five extra votes went to Romney.

Likely adding fuel to the flames, Webster said Friday night some towns votes still weren't included in the recount if they voted after 5 p.m. on Feb. 11 or if he couldn't get in touch with them.

Late Friday, a town-by-town tally of the recount still showed some towns with zero votes. The state party was unable to contact every single town because it does not have on file a GOP chairman for every town, Webster said.

“We made every effort to reach out to every town we could reach,” Webster said. After days of local and national scrutiny, the Maine Republican Party has been recounting the results of its presidential caucuses.

In addition to Romney increasing his lead in certain areas, there were many other incongruities between the old tallies and new tallies. In New Gloucester, for example, the state GOP originally said 74 people voted.

Now it says 102 people voted. Nearly all of the extra votes went to Rick Santorum. The new numbers set the stage for today's caucuses in Washington County. The Maine GOP initially set a time frame of Feb. 4-11 for individual caucuses around the state to be included in the official tally. The Paul campaign protested that not including Washington County robbed it of the chance to overtake Romney. Then it became evident that vote totals from several communities were left out of the official count.

Some other communities' vote totals were entered incorrectly. Those mistakes have been corrected, Webster said Friday. The state's 24 delegates to the Republican National Convention won't be chosen until the state party convention in May; and three of them will be state GOP officials. A total of 1,144 delegates are needed nationally to win the GOP nomination.

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