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Vote recount watched closely

Election workers in all 33 counties were recounting ballots Thursday in the close race for state land commissioner, in the first such statewide recount.

Results were not expected until next week.

The contest between Republican Aubrey Dunn and Democratic Land Commissioner Ray Powell was so close it triggered a recount under a 2008 state law. Dunn won by just over 700 votes out of nearly 500,000 cast.

At least one county, Quay, finished Thursday, while some counties may need to work into the weekend. Bernalillo County, with the biggest chunk of votes – more than 173,000 – is scheduled to wrap up on Monday.

The secretary of state won’t announce any results until all counties have reported, according to spokesman Rod Adair.

State Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque, the executive director of a county clerks’ group, said the Quay County recount yielded no changes.

The statewide re-tally was conducted under close scrutiny from the Dunn and Powell campaigns and the Republican and Democratic parties, with watchers in all counties.

Part of the recount involves reconsidering provisional ballots that were rejected. The State Canvassing Board has ordered that the rejected ballots of otherwise qualified voters who registered to vote at the Motor Vehicle Division, but whose names never appeared on voter rolls, should be counted.

The secretary of state had said a list of people who conducted business at MVD and asked to complete a voter registration form would be sent to county clerks, for purposes of matching rejected provisional ballots with those names.

Instead, Adair said Thursday, the list is being kept at the Secretary of State’s Office because of privacy concerns. County clerks would call with names on rejected ballots, and the Secretary of State’s Office would determine whether they were on the MVD list, he said.

Adair said it could violate the Driver Privacy Protection Act if the list were released or used in the view of recount watchers and others.

The recount is the first statewide recount of ballots under the 2008 law, and elections officials can’t remember any statewide recounts before that.