Texas Dems deny Clinton request

Austin_The Texas Democratic Party said Monday it had denied a request by Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign that it take extra steps to verify the signatures of election night caucus-goers before party conventions being held at the end of the month.

State chairman Boyd Richie said Texas Democrats will not "set up an unnecessary, ad hoc 'verification' process that could effectively disqualify delegates selected at their precinct conventions after the fact."

An estimated 1 million people attended Democratic caucuses after the party's presidential primary concluded March 4. Those caucuses began the process of choosing 67 pledged delegates to the party's national convention in Denver in August.

Clinton's campaign, in a letter to the state party Friday, said it wanted the signatures of those attending caucuses double-checked before county and state Senate district convention convene on March 29.

Richie said the party conventions already have rules in place to address complaints and problems.

Clinton's campaign said it received more than 2,000 complaints of violations following the historic turnout on March 4, and that it is the party's responsibility to ensure the integrity of the caucus process. Among the problems cited were caucuses starting before precinct polling places closed and results being taken from head or hand counts instead of a written roll.

In an unofficial and incomplete caucus tally, the state Democratic Party reported Barack Obama was ahead of Clinton with 56 percent to her 44 percent, after reports from 41 percent of precinct caucuses.

Clinton narrowly won the primary stage of the two-step contest, which allocated 126 delegates.

"Our only concern is that the caucus outcome accurately reflect the voices of those who were eligible to participate," said Adrienne Elrod, a Clinton campaign spokeswoman.

Caucus delegates are awarded as a result of three stages: the precinct conventions, or caucuses, held election night; county and state Senate district conventions planned for March 29; and the state Democratic convention on June 6-7.

Kelley Shannon, AP Writer © 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.