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State asks to check ballots

SANTA FE – Secretary of State Dianna Duran’s office will ask a judge for authorization to open locked ballot boxes in Colfax County to try to figure out what caused a glitch in election returns.

When the county recounted ballots in the land commissioner’s race, the bottom line was 84 fewer votes for Democrat Ray Powell and 103 fewer for Republican Aubrey Dunn, than were initially reported after the election.

Bureau of Elections Director Bobbi Shearer told the State Canvassing Board on Thursday that considering there were fewer than 4,000 votes cast in the county, it was “an unacceptably high level of error.”

She said the problem may have occurred during hand-tallying, which had to be done after a programming error caused vote-counting machines to reject some ballots.

Shearer said her office wants to do a full audit of the returns in the county to determine what happened and how to help prevent it from happening again.

Whatever emerges from the audit won’t affect the already-certified official returns in the land commissioner’s race, she said. In the recount, Republican Dunn defeated Democrat Powell, the incumbent, by 656 votes statewide.

The only other county with a notable change between the first tally and the recount was Sandoval, where Powell lost 28 votes and Dunn 54. That error rate wasn’t as high as Colfax’s, because more than 37,500 votes were cast in Sandoval.