--2 New Mexico's Ballot Counting Blues
       
Sept. 20, 2014

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New Mexico's Ballot Counting Blues

State election results should be finalized by Friday of next week.

November 27, 2012, 4:30 pm
By Sterling Fluharty

A few candidates in New Mexico are still waiting for the official outcome of their races, even though Election Day happened three weeks ago, and the State of New Mexico was supposed to certify the election results today.

New Mexico's State Canvassing Board—comprised of the Governor, Secretary of State, and Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court—met today at 1:30pm and approved a recommendation from Bobbi Shearer, the State's Bureau of Election Director, that recounts occur in two races, the state be allowed to continue with its canvass, and the board reconvene on December 7 to finish certifying election results.

One of the recounts involves House District 23, a legislative seat in Sandoval and Bernalillo counties, where the votes separating the candidates have fluctuated above and below the threshold (half a percent of the total vote) that triggers an automatic recount.  The other recount will take place in Doña Ana County, between candidates for House District 37, where the race is currently tied and will have to be decided by a game of chance.

State law requires County Clerks to conduct a ten-day canvass, followed by a ten-day statewide canvass, during which the counties count provisional and late-arriving absentee ballots and the state checks for any errors in county tabulations.  Shearer said today her office will use the additional canvass time to monitor the recounts and to minimize errors.

The certification of New Mexico's election results have been delayed, according to Shearer, because a few counties took more than ten days to conduct their canvass and because of errors that occurred during the Sandoval County canvass, including the discovery in the last few days of 34 federal absentee ballots that the county's absentee board had mistakenly overlooked.

A few Republicans in Sandoval County, concerned about low turnout and relatively close races, obtained court orders in the last two weeks to impound and inspect ballots, with the hope that it would lead to recounts.  Shearer says this inspection won’t interfere with the statewide canvass or recounts ordered by the State Canvassing Board.


At today's ballot inspection in the 13th Judicial District Court House, observers, including Senator Rod Adair, discussed possible reasons why Rio Rancho residents in 2012 cast several thousand fewer ballots than in 2008 and realized they would most likely have to count any ballots by hand.  Adair concluded “clerical error or oversight” might explain these missing ballots, but said it was also possible that some Rio Rancho voters, frustrated by long lines on Election Day, decided not to vote.

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