Torres Small's lead grows in final tally of ballots - Albuquerque Journal

Torres Small’s lead grows in final tally of ballots

Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal

Democrat Xochitl Torres Small expanded her lead over Republican Yvette Herrell in a hard-fought 2nd Congressional District race on Monday, after a final tally of the 1,100 or so remaining provisional and hand tally ballots in Doña Ana County.

However, Herrell has not conceded and has questioned the counting of roughly 8,000 absentee ballots that put Torres Small into the lead, though she did not provide any evidence of possible wrongdoing.

“I think that maybe we need to look into it a little bit more,” Herrell said during an appearance on a FOX News show on Saturday.

Republican Yvette Herrell, left, and Democrat Xochitl Torres Small

The state Republican Party’s chairman also indicated Monday the GOP is working closely with the Herrell campaign and does not consider the race’s outcome to be a done deal.

“We believe strongly in preserving the integrity of New Mexico elections,” state GOP chairman Ryan Cangiolosi told the Journal. “This race will not be over until we are assured that every registered voter who cast a legal ballot is counted.”

The latest developments in a race that has gotten national attention and prompted questions about vote-tallying procedures – similar to other races in Florida and Arizona – came Monday when the roughly 1,100 provisional and hand tally ballots were added to the vote count in Doña Ana County.

When those ballots were added to the mix, Torres Small’s lead in the contest increased from about 2,800 votes to 3,539. The Doña Ana County Canvassing Board will meet today to review the election returns and certify results, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.

The current unofficial election results that include the provisional ballots show Torres Small with 100,570 votes and Herrell with 97,031 votes.

Herrell and her campaign have not responded to numerous calls from the Journal. Her interview on Fox News was the only public comment on the results since Herrell’s election night victory speech. That night several news organizations, including the Journal, projected Herrell was the winner before the secretary of state announced more absentee ballots needed to be counted.

During her cable television interview, Herrell did not provide specific details about whether she would challenge the results but said, “We need to look into it, shine some light on it and make sure if there’s problems, let’s fix them.”

On her appearance on the “Justice with Janine” show on FOX News, Herrell talked about her concerns with the absentee ballots in Doña Ana County that gave Torres Small the edge in the close race. The county has far more registered Democrats than Republicans – a total of 53,697 registered Democrats, 30,582 Republicans and an additional 30,674 independent voters who decline to state a party affiliation.

“They had magically found 4,000 ballots that had not been counted,” said Herrell, referring to absentee ballots in Doña Ana County the Secretary of State’s Office had announced after midnight on Election Night.

The Secretary of State’s Office half an hour later also announced that an additional 4,000 or so absentee ballots had been counted by election workers in the Doña Ana County Clerk’s Office but not yet added to the vote count.

Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, New Mexico’s top election official, said in a recent interview that she will encourage Doña Ana County to begin processing absentee ballots earlier in the next election cycle and to hire more poll workers to avoid delays in the final tally.

But her office has defended the integrity of the election and how the votes were counted in the open congressional race and other races.

“Doña Ana County voters can have every confidence that their votes were counted properly and in accordance with the law and any suggestion that absentee ballots were somehow ‘magically found’ on election night is simply false,” said Alex Curtas, communications director for the Secretary of State’s office.

No formal complaint about the vote-counting had been filed as of Monday with the Secretary of State’s Office, Curtas added

In all, the more than 8,000 absentee ballots cast in Doña Ana County were three times more than usual, according to the county clerk, which led to poll workers not being able to finish the vote tally on Election Night.

Under state law, automatic vote recounts are triggered for statewide and congressional races if the final margin separating the two top candidates is less than 0.25 percent of the total votes cast for that race. The current margin in the 2nd Congressional District contest is larger than that – the two candidates are now separated by 1.8 percent of votes cast – and it appears the automatic recount will not be triggered.

If that margin stands after election results are certified, that means a recount would likely have to be requested – and paid for – by Herrell or the state Republican Party.

Home » Politics » Election » Torres Small’s lead grows in final tally of ballots

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