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Irrigation board candidate contests election loss

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

The local irrigation board has yet to declare official results from last Tuesday’s election.

Simon T. “Scooter” Haynes

That’s because one candidate is contesting his loss with allegations of incomplete ballots and other “deficiencies.”

In the June 8 Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District board election, Simon T. “Scooter” Haynes ran against incumbent Joaquin Baca for a Bernalillo County position.

Baca received 1,583 votes to Haynes’ 571 votes, according to unofficial results posted to the MRGCD website on election night.

But Haynes said his nickname, Scooter, was not on most early voting ballots.

He first notified Ernie Marquez, election director at Automated Election Services in Rio Rancho, who corrected the ballots before Election Day.

Haynes presented his accusations to the board at a June 11 special meeting that was held to declare official results.

“Every single in-person early voter was presented with these incorrect ballots,” he said. “I know of at least one voter who voted for the wrong person. I request that all early votes through June 4 be invalidated due to this error.”

Haynes, who owns an Albuquerque real estate and construction business and farms in the North Valley, also took issue with Baca receiving unofficial election

Joaquin Baca

results before other candidates and said he received reports of qualified voters being turned away at the polls.

“The impropriety is inexcusable,” he said. “As a result, the entire election for Position 4 should be invalidated.”

After Haynes’ comments, the board went into executive session to discuss potential threatened legal action – Haynes was accompanied by an attorney – and then returned to the public meeting and voted to postpone certification.

Baca, a U.S. Forest Service hydrologist, said he believes the original results will stand but supports the board investigating “any perceived irregularities” in the pursuit of “fair and transparent” elections.

“I understand the results are not what (Haynes) wanted, but the voters have spoken, and his protesting will not change that,” Baca said. “Like in all elections, it is incumbent for all of us to show graciousness in loss and respect the integrity of the election process. I’m looking forward to continuing our conservation programs and getting us prepared to deal with our serious drought situation.”

The board will now declare results on June 25. New board members will be sworn in on June 28.

Theresa Davis is a Report for America corps member covering water and the environment for the Albuquerque Journal.


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