SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The state Canvassing Board ordered recounts Tuesday in two primary election races [auth] for state Senate in which the leading candidates held nine-vote margins.
The board directed counties to start the recounts July 5, and the board will meet again July 9 to certify the winners.
State law requires automatic recounts when the difference between the top two candidates is less than 0.5 percent.
One of the recounts is for the Republican nomination in southeastern New Mexico’s Senate District 32. Chaves County farmer Cliff Pirtle had 1,018 votes, followed by 1,009 for Roswell Fire Chief Chad Hamill, according to the latest results outlined to the board.
The eventual winner faces Senate President Tim Jennings, a Roswell Democrat, in the November general election. The district covers parts of Chaves, Eddy and Otero counties.
A recount also is necessary in the Democratic contest in western New Mexico’s Senate District 30. Clemente Sanchez, of Grants, has a nine-vote lead in a four-way primary. The Democratic incumbent, David Ulibarri, of Grants, finished third.
Ulibarri defeated Sanchez in the Democratic primary four years ago by five votes after a recount. This year, Sanchez received 1,235 votes, and his niece, Maxine Velasquez, of Laguna Pueblo, had 1,226. Ulibarri finished with 889 votes and Randolph Collins, of Grants, had 624 votes.
The Democratic primary winner will run against Republican Vickie Perea, of Belen, in the general election. The district covers parts of Cibola, McKinley, Socorro and Valencia counties.
Except for the two races with recounts, the board certified the results of the June 5 primary election.
Voter turnout was below average, with 25 percent of Democratic and Republican registered voters casting ballots.
Turnout has averaged 28 percent in presidential election year primaries in New Mexico since 1996.
A total of 239,213 voters cast ballots in the June primary, according to official returns. That’s down from 274,207 voters participating in the 2008 GOP and Democratic primaries.
In the Democratic primary, 146,823 voters cast ballots — about 25.5 percent of those eligible to participate. There were 92,390 Republicans casting ballots, or about 24 percent of the party’s registered voters.
Gov. Susana Martinez, Secretary of State Dianna Duran and Chief Justice Petra Jimenez Maes make up the canvassing board.