Vote recounts in three NM legislative races affirm results - Albuquerque Journal

Vote recounts in three NM legislative races affirm results

SANTA FE – Vote recounts completed Friday in three New Mexico legislative races confirmed the original results, spelling narrow escapes for two incumbent lawmakers and defeat for a third.

The unofficial results of the recounts also solidified the political composition of the Legislature for the coming 60-day session, as Democrats will hold a 38-32 majority in the House and a 26-16 advantage in the Senate.

Based on the recount results, incumbent GOP Rep. David Adkins won a second two-year term representing a West Side Albuquerque House district by maintaining a 9-vote edge over Democratic opponent Ronnie Martinez – the same margin as the original vote tally – in a race with nearly 14,000 votes cast.

“Every vote counts, for sure,” Adkins said in an interview after the recount results were posted. “I’m excited to be able to go back to Santa Fe and serve the people of House District 29.”

Under New Mexico law, state-paid vote recounts are required to be done in legislative races in which the candidates are separated by vote margins of less than 1 percent. Three races met that criteria this year, and the recounts were conducted by Bernalillo and Sandoval county clerks, as the three districts in question are each located within one or both of those counties.

Democrat Daymon Ely claimed victory in House District 23, which includes parts of Corrales, Rio Rancho and Albuquerque, ousting two-term Rep. Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque. Ely won by a 125-vote margin in that race – up 23 votes from the original count.

Meanwhile, Pacheco is one of four House Republicans to be ousted in this year’s general election cycle – the other three were all in southern New Mexico-based seats – as Democrats picked up a total of five seats to reclaim control of the House just two years after losing it.

In the third race subject to recount, incumbent Sen. John Sapien, D-Corrales, fended off a challenge from Republican Diego Espinoza of Rio Rancho, winning re-election by a 190-vote margin in a race that featured more than 25,000 votes cast.

He had held a 198-vote lead after the original count, and will return for a third four-year term representing Senate District 9, which takes in Placitas and parts of Bernalillo, Corrales and Albuquerque.

Bureau of Elections Director Kari Fresquez said the changes in final vote numbers might have been due to the fact Sandoval County used a central vote-counting machine that’s more precise in detecting questionable votes – like when a bubble on a voter’s paper ballot is only partly filled in – than the standard vote-tallying machines used on Election Day.

But she said the fact that original results were upheld in all three races after more than a week of re-tallying votes should give voters confidence in the state’s system.

“It’s very reassuring,” Fresquez told the Journal. “It just proves our technology works the way it’s supposed to.”

The recount results are expected to be certified next week by the State Canvassing Board.

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