Updated at 12:45pm — Madrid Cuts Wilson’s Lead

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Democrat picks up votes in latest Bernalillo County tally.

1:55pm UPDATE: Bernalillo County Clerk Mary Herrera is now saying the county canvass, with its more than 3,700 "in lieu of" and provisional ballots to be counted, probably won't be completed until Friday, according to the latest story from The Associated Press.

Although Democratic challenger Patricia Madrid leads incumbent Republican Rep. Heather Wilson in populous Bernalillo County by about 700 votes, Madrid trails Wilson by 1,048 votes overall in the five counties that make up the 1st Congressional District, according to the latest roundup from The Associated Press.

But still to be counted are 4,580 ballots in Bernalillo County that were kicked out of machines and must be hand-tallied, County Clerk Mary Herrera told reporters this morning.

In addition, there are three precincts to be counted in Sandoval County and one in Santa Fe County.

Wilson carried those 1st District precincts (100 percent reporting) in Torrance and Valencia counties, according to AP's latest unofficial figures.

A wild card in the final unofficial count in Bernalillo County remains with 1,058 so-called "in lieu of" ballots where a voter had requested but hadn't received an absentee ballot by mail and showed up at a polling place to vote, as well as 2,698 provisional ballots, which can be given out for a variety of reasons but are often disqualified.

Those 3,756 ballots won't be counted, however, until the county conducts its official canvass, which Herrera said could begin as early as this afternoon, with the "in lieu of" and provisional ballot counting the first order of business.

"We absolutely will not know (the outcome) today," state Democratic Chairman John Wertheim told reporters.

Wertheim earlier expressed confidence that Madrid would emerge the winner of the tight race, while GOP state Chairman Allen Weh told 770 KKOB Radio talk show host Pat Frisch he thought Wilson's lead would hold up and that the incumbent would win by about a thousand votes.

Asked whether Madrid would seek a recount if the current trends continued, Wertheim told reporters: "You don't have a recount until you have a count."

10:45am — Final Tally Could Be Delayed: Madrid leads Wilson in Bernalillo Co., but trails in total vote.

 Vote counters in Bernalillo County have added up another 2,400 or so absentee ballots brought into the county's warehouse before last night's midnight deadline, giving Democrat Patricia Madrid a slight edge of 757 votes out of a total 182,219 votes cast in the county.

But Wilson continues to hold an edge thanks to votes from Torrance, Valencia, Sandoval and Santa Fe counties. There are three Sandoval County precincts outstanding and one in Santa Fe County still to be counted.

Roughly 2.000 absentee and early votes remain to be counted in Bernalillo County, according to reports from election officials this morning, but the wild card appears to be some 3,700 "in lieu of" and provisional ballots that can't be counted until the county begins its canvass, County Clerk Mary Herrera told reporters this morning.

Those "in lieu of" and provisional ballots will be the first counted when the county begins its canvass some time this afternoon, said Herrera, who was elected Secretary of State on Tuesday.

The canvass could take up to two days to complete, Herrera said.

Meanwhile, GOP attorney Pat Rogers told Journal reporter Olivier Uyttebrouck this morning that he expected Wilson's lead of a little more than 1,300 votes to hold up when all the counting is done.

"The numbers will move a little bit, but I don't think there will be a significant change," Rogers told the Journal.

9:25am — Wilson Holds Slim Lead: Leaders on both sides confident of win as count continues.

Incumbent Republican Rep. Heather Wilson was ahead by a little more than 1,300 votes over her Democratic challenger, state Attorney General Patricia Madrid, as some 2,400 absentee and early voting ballots remained to be counted this morning, according to the Journal's Trip Jennings.

Still to be counted were 1,058 so-called "in lieu of" votes where voters who had requested but never received mailed absentee ballots and another 2,698 provisional ballots that must be tallied by hand — but those votes won't be counted until the Bernalillo County canvass begins some time today, County Clerk (and newly elected Secretary of State) Mary Herrera told the Journal this morning.

"This game ain't over," state Democratic Chairman John Wertheim told the Journal. "We're in the 10th inning and we don't know who's gonna win."

But GOP state Chairman Allen Weh was confident of victory, telling 770 KKOB Radio talk-show host Pat Frisch that he expected Wilson to eke out a victory.

"At the end of the day, Heather Wilson is going to win this thing by a thousand votes, maybe a little less, maybe a little more," Weh told Frisch.

There are still three Sandoval County precincts and one Santa Fe County precinct (in the East Mountains area) in the 1st Congressional District to be counted this morning, but Weh said those are "Republican-leaning" precincts.

Meanwhile, Bernalillo County elections officials told Jennings that a final unofficial tally in the hard-fought race won't be ready until after noon.

Volunteers were expected to arrive this morning at the Bernalillo County Clerk's Office warehouse to finish going through some 2,000 absentee ballots, another 400 or so early votes and an unknown number of provisional ballots, according to Jennings.

There were still a little more than 9,000 uncounted ballots as of around 2 this morning, including some 2,300 absentee ballots brought in on Election Day, another 3,600 some absentee ballots to be hand-counted, a little more than 600 early-voting ballots and an unknown number of provisional ballots outstanding, according to election officials.

6:45am UPDATE: State GOP Chairman Allen Weh tells 770 KKOB Radio's morning host Pat Frisch that he expects those votes still to be counted should break Rep. Heather Wilson's way.

"At the end of the day, Heather Wilson is going to win this thing by a thousand votes, maybe a little less, maybe a little more," Weh told Frisch.

There are a "couple hundred" ballots still to be counted in southern Santa Fe County and a few remaining in Torrance County, but all the outstanding ballots are in "Republican-leaning" precincts, said Weh.

6:30am UPDATE: A new phalanx of poll workers is expected in at the Bernalillo County Clerk's Office around 7 this morning to help sort through the 1,800 to 2,000 absentee ballots remaining to be counted by hand in the Wilson-Madrid race, according to KOAT-TV's Bob Brown who has been at the clerk's office all night (no relief in sight for Bob!).

5:25am — Still Up in the Air: Wilson holds slimmest of leads with votes still being counted.

The race between incumbent Republican Rep. Heather Wilson and her Democratic challenger, New Mexico Attorney General Patricia Madrid, remains too close to call at this hour.

With 99 percent of the 1st Congressional District's precincts reporting, Wilson holds a 1,303 vote lead over Madrid, according to the latest results reported on KOAT-TV.

But some 600 absentee ballots and several hundred hand tallies are continuing this morning at the Bernalillo County Clerk's Office, and three precincts from Sandoval County and one from Santa Fe County won't be counted until poll workers get in to work this morning, 770 KKOB Radio reported.

Here's the latest from this morning's print version of the Albuquerque Journal, and for CNN's up-to-the-minute state-by-state, county-by-county results, go here.

Early this morning, Research and Polling's Brian Sanderoff told Action 7 News' Matt Grubs that the votes remaining to be counted would probably break Wilson's way, but no one is conceding anything in the Madrid camp at this hour.

The outcome of the Wilson-Madrid race, once thought to be a crucial factor in the hard-fought U.S. House race across the country, won't make much difference in the new balance of power in Congress, where Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is poised to become the first woman speaker of a Democratic-controlled House of Representatives.

The Senate remains knotted at 49-49, with only two races too close to call at this time — where Republican incumbent Sens. George Allen in Virginia and Conrad Burns in Montana are slightly trailing their opponents.

So, it's only the Burns and Allen Show separating Republicans from control of the U.S. Senate.

If Virginia Democrat James Webb and Montana Democrat Jon Tester hang on to win, it will be (as one blogger recently quipped) "Good night, Gracie" for the GOP. The Democrats (if you include Independent Sens. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Bernie Sanders of Vermont) will hold a 51-49 edge.

It's going to be an interesting couple of years.

For a good roundup of election results and what they're likely to mean, check out the numbers and the post-mortems on RealClearPolitics.com.

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