Land commissioner race recount underway
More than a month after the Nov. 4 election, the contest between Republican Aubrey Dunn and Democrat Ray Powell will soon be over, as the recount began Dec. 11.
On Dec. 1, the state Supreme Court granted a petition by Land Commissioner Ray Powell to suspend an automatic recount that was originally scheduled for Dec. 8.
Powell said he and his team wanted to argue about some requirements they felt were not being followed.
One of these requirements was the number of votes that would be used for the testing of each voting machine. The original recount order asked for 100 ballots to be used in each county to test the machines.
Powell said this was the wrong procedure because the law requires that voting machines are tested with at least 2 percent of the votes cast in each county. In a county with a large population, 100 ballots would fall below the 2 percent requirement. In a county with a small voting population, 100 ballots would go over the requirement.
A hearing with the state Supreme Court was scheduled for Dec. 8, but it was pushed back to Dec. 10.
At the hearing, it was settled that either 100 votes or 2 percent of the total votes will be used in each county, depending on which option includes the largest amount of votes.
“It’s been a bumpy ride to get to this point. We had to work really hard to get here.” Powell said. “We fought hard to make sure everyone’s vote is counted.”
Another thing Powell said he was concerned about was an issue regarding individuals who registered at the Motor Vehicle Division. These voters were given provisional ballots, but their votes were never counted. The original recount order did not address how these ballots would be handled.
“It’s disturbing watching the system not work very well,” he said. “It’s important that every person knows their vote is counted.”
The MVD issue was brought up at the hearing but Powell said the state Supreme Court told him he would have to solve this issue with the district court.
Powell said he and his team have been asking for the MVD records since the election, but so far they have not received them. These records are the only way to know how many votes were not counted.
“By pointing out that people thought they registered in good faith and then them not being able to vote, hopefully it will at least help for the next election.” Powell said. “It might not help for this election but hopefully it will help improve the system in the future.”
Although not every issue was resolved at the hearing, Powell said he was satisfied because most issues were.
“I’m just relieved that we are having a recount. It looks like it will be fair. In the end, no matter how it turns out, at least the citizens of New Mexico can know it was a fair election,” he said.
The recount is expected to take a few days and be done by Dec. 15.