- Associated Press - Thursday, October 30, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - With the Iowa Senate race coming down to the wire, Republicans are requesting information from state and local voting officials in case a recount is necessary.

The GOP is asking about polling places, voting rules and recount procedures, saying it just wants to be prepared in case there is any question about the outcome in the competitive contest between Republican Joni Ernst and Democrat Bruce Braley. The National Republican Senatorial Committee recently requested materials from the Iowa secretary of state’s office and the Ernst campaign has reached out to county auditors, seeking information.

The NRSC, the Senate Republicans’ campaign arm, has made the same requests to secretary of state offices in 10 other states with tight Senate races.

“It’s all standard recount prep,” said NRSC senior adviser Kevin McLaughlin. “It would be malpractice for us not to be concerned in any state where we are neck and neck or in the margin.”

Ernst, a state lawmaker and lieutenant colonel in the Iowa National Guard, and Braley, a four-term congressman, are running in one of the closest races in the nation. A poll from Quinnipiac University released Wednesday shows Ernst with 49 percent of likely voters and Braley with 45 percent. The survey of 817 likely voters has a margin of error of 3.4 percentage points.

A spokesman for Braley’s campaign said they have not made similar records requests in Iowa. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee declined to discuss recount plans in Iowa or elsewhere, saying they are focused on winning, but will be ready for any scenario.

“We are focused on winning these races on Election Day,” DSCC spokesman Justin Barasky said. “The fact we know Joni Ernst is doing this puts to rest all the bravado. They obviously don’t think they’re up or they wouldn’t be doing this.”

Ernst spokeswoman Gretchen Hamel said the campaign expects to win and called the preparation “standard practice.”

In Iowa, there is no automatic recount process. Any candidate whose name was printed on the ballot may request a recount. Sarah Reisetter, director of elections for the Iowa Secretary of State’s office, said she was not aware of a statewide recount in at least eight years.

The 2008 Minnesota Senate election prompted a lengthy recount process which culminated with Democrat Al Franken being certified the winner by a 312-vote margin. Franken was behind his Republican opponent after the initial vote count.

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