SANTA FE (AP) – The certification of New Mexico’s general election results is on holding pending a recount in the statewide race for land commissioner.
The State Canvassing Board met Tuesday in Santa Fe and ordered a recount in the contest between incumbent Democrat Ray Powell and Republican challenger Aubrey Dunn. The latest totals provided by the secretary of state’s office show Dunn with a 704-vote lead.
The recount is scheduled to begin Dec. 8 and will take about two days. The board will meet again Dec. 16 to certify the results.
“We’ve been through every county,” said Bobbi Shearer, head of the state Bureau of Elections. “That includes all the provisionals, all the hand-tallies, all the in-lieu-of ballots, everything that was handled by the county canvassing boards. But we’re going to ask the counties to verify those numbers because we want to know how many ballots in each category the candidates can expect.”
This will be the first recount in a statewide race since New Mexico enacted a law in 2008 for automatic recounts when the margin between the top two candidates is less than 0.5 percent.
Powell said he will be watching closely, given that it has never been done before.
“The bottom line is we just need to make sure the intent of the constitution is followed, that every vote counts, and that everybody feels it’s been an open and transparent process,” he said.
Dunn said he knows all the counties have worked hard. He also acknowledged that it’s been stressful for the campaigns.
“All we are hoping for is an honest election,” he said.
Officials said the recount will cost an estimated $116,000.
State election officials also updated the canvassing board on voter turnout. Nearly 521,800 voters cast ballots. That’s just shy of 41 percent of the state’s registered voters.
Four years ago, when Gov. Susana Martinez first won election, 607,700 votes were cast – a record number of ballots for a gubernatorial election year. That represented about 53 percent of registered voters.
Far fewer voters go to the polls in midterm elections historically than when a president is selected. In 2008, about 70 percent of registered voters – roughly 833,000 – cast ballots when Democrat Barack Obama won the presidency.