More time needed for canvassing election results

November 27, 2012 • State News

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Final election results won’t be ready for Tuesday’s meeting of the state Canvassing Board, and it’s possible that recounts could be required in two tight legislative races, state officials said Monday.

The secretary of state’s office is still reconciling discrepancies in some county election results, including in Sandoval County where one of the recounts may take place, New Mexico Bureau of Elections Director Bobbi Shearer said.

State law requires recounts when the margin between the top candidates is less than one-half of 1 percent.

It’s already certain that a recount will be necessary in a state House race in Dona [auth] Ana County between Republican Rep. Terry McMillan and Democrat Joanne Ferrary. The race was a tie, according to the county’s tallies.

In Sandoval County, it appeared that the results of some hand-tallied ballots weren’t included in the county’s totals, Shearer said. If those ballots are included, a recount likely will be needed in the state House race between Democrat Marci Blaze and Republican Paul Pacheco, who was leading in unofficial returns, she said.

The Canvassing Board will likely agree on Tuesday to reconvene at a later date to receive the final election tallies, but it could order recounts so they could take place next week, Shearer said.

It’s uncertain when the canvassing of election results will be completed, but it will happen in time for the state’s presidential electors to meet on Dec. 17, she said.

It’s the job of the secretary of state’s office to compare results from the 33 counties with election records from precincts, including results from machines that tabulate votes and ballots tallied by hand.

The office also prepares official tallies for statewide races, constitutional amendments and races involving districts of more than one county, such as congressional and some legislative contests. The secretary of state’s office also hires an outside accounting firm to check randomly selected precincts.

The Canvassing Board, which ratifies the final results and certifies the winners, is made up of the governor, the secretary of state and the chief justice.

It’s rare that the statewide election results aren’t finished for the required meeting of the canvassing board three weeks after Election Day. In 2000, when questions arose over the hotly contested presidential race, the canvassing board agreed to certify Democrat Al Gore as the winner of the presidential race in New Mexico but not make the results official until two days later pending a review of some results in Roosevelt County.

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