SANTA FE – Two New Mexico state House races are headed toward automatic recounts, state Bureau of Elections Director Bobbi Shearer said Monday.
The recounts will likely be requested by the Secretary of State’s Office today, when the State Canvassing Board meets in the Capitol.
It previously appeared as though the Corrales-based House District 23 race would fall just outside the margin needed to trigger a recount under state law, as Republican Paul Pacheco led Democrat Marci Blaze by 74 votes -6,906 to 6,832 – with nearly 14,000 votes cast, according to the secretary of state’s online voting site.
However, Shearer said a review of ballots cast in Bernalillo and Sandoval counties, conducted as part of the postelection canvass, has cut into Pacheco’s lead. With 32 more votes tallied, he now leads by 66 votes, she said. A margin of 68 votes or fewer would have triggered the recount.
“We found some errors, and it looks like they will bring it down into the recount (zone),” Shearer told the Journal.
The errors include some hand-tallied ballots that were not entered into the electronic vote-counting system, she said.
Meanwhile, the other race headed toward an automatic recount is the House District 37 contest between Republican incumbent Terry McMillan of Las Cruces and Democratic challenger Joanne Ferrary.
That race is tied at 6,247 votes apiece for both McMillan and Ferrary, according to the secretary of state’s unofficial returns.
If it remains deadlocked after the automatic recount, the tie will be broken by a game of chance set by a five-member committee that will include both candidates.
State law requires automatic recounts when the official canvass shows a margin between the two top candidates of less than 0.5 percent of the total votes cast in the race. Such recounts are paid for by the state.
Democrats are assured of retaining control of the House based on this year’s election results. However, the two races headed for recounts will determine how strong of a majority they will hold in the 70-member chamber come January.
The margin could be as large as 40-30, if both Democratic candidates are declared to be the winners, or as narrow as 38-32 if both Republicans triumph.
Democrats went into the election holding a 36-33 edge in the House, where there is also one independent. However, that legislator, Rep. Andy Nuñez of Hatch, was defeated in his re-election bid.
No state Senate races were close enough to trigger an automatic recount.
— This article appeared on page C1 of the Albuquerque Journal