Sanders seeks Kentucky recount after narrow Clinton win

Sanders addresses the crowd during a campaign stop in Kentucky, May 4, 2016.
Sanders addresses the crowd during a campaign stop in Kentucky, May 4, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US Senator Bernie Sanders on Tuesday called for a recount of votes cast in last weeks' Kentucky Democratic presidential primary, after unofficial results showed him narrowly losing the state to frontrunner Hillary Clinton.

"I hereby request a full and complete check and recanvass of every one of the voting machines and absentee ballots from all precincts in all 120 counties involving the Democratic presidential race from the 2016 primary election," Sanders wrote in a letter to Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.

Unofficial results published by the Kentucky State Board of Elections show Clinton edging Sanders by 212,550 votes to 210,626, a difference of less than 2,000 votes.

Grimes, who is supporting Clinton, posted Sanders's request on Twitter and said the recount will be conducted Thursday in order to "verify the accuracy of the vote totals reported from the voting machines."

A recount is unlikely to change the race trajectory, as Clinton holds a substantial lead in delegates and she nipped Sanders by 28 delegates to 27 in the Bluegrass State, according to a CNN tally.

But it could provide a psychological boost to Sanders and his justification for remaining in the race until the end, as he has pledged to do.

Clinton has amassed 2,301 delegates, including pledged delegates and so-called super-delegates, and is now just 82 shy of the 2,383 needed to clinch the nomination.

But Sanders has been arguing that the momentum rests with him, having won three of the last four contests excluding Kentucky, and that he could actually finish the primary contest ahead of Clinton in the number of pledged delegates.

Some 930 Democratic delegates are still at stake, including 546 in California on June 7.

Clinton leads Sanders by 9.5 percentage points in the largest US state, according to a RealClearPolitics poll average.

Clinton has asserted that she will be the nominee, and has already pivoted toward a general election showdown with Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee.