Europe

Austrian officials ask for ballot probe in presidential vote

A man walks between election posters of Alexander Van der Bellen, candidate for presidential elections and former head of the Austrian Greens, right, and Norbert Hofer, candidate for presidential elections of Austria's right-wing Freedom Party, FPOE, left, in Vienna, Austria, Monday, May 23, 2016.  The  Eurosceptic, anti-immigration right-winger  Norbert Hofer, and his left-leaning rival are neck and neck in Austria's presidential election a day after polls closed, and officials are now counting absentee ballots to determine who will win.  (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)

A man walks between election posters of Alexander Van der Bellen, candidate for presidential elections and former head of the Austrian Greens, right, and Norbert Hofer, candidate for presidential elections of Austria's right-wing Freedom Party, FPOE, left, in Vienna, Austria, Monday, May 23, 2016. The Eurosceptic, anti-immigration right-winger Norbert Hofer, and his left-leaning rival are neck and neck in Austria's presidential election a day after polls closed, and officials are now counting absentee ballots to determine who will win. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)  (The Associated Press)

Austria's interior ministry has asked the state prosecutor's office to follow up on apparent regional irregularities in the absentee vote count for the country's presidential election.

The move is a result of action by the Freedom Party, whose nominee Norbert Hofer was in the lead after polls closed Sunday but lost narrowly to a left-leaning candidate after absentee ballots were counted.

Ministry official Robert Stein on Wednesday cited party officials, who said that the count began too early in and around the southern Austrian city of Villach.

Alexander Van der Bellen won the election by only about 30,000 votes and the Freedom Party has suggested it may demand a recount, but are waiting for the probe to end first.