The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Election in limbo: Amendment 2 trails by 23 votes, but that can change.


BERNALILLO — A mistake and two locked ballot boxes in Sandoval County, an oversight in Chaves County and a mathematical error in Dona Ana County have clouded the outcome of New Mexico’s special election.

A constitutional amendment giving the governor more control over education was a clear winner Tuesday night, but changing vote totals in the three counties left an amendment that would increase funding for schools in limbo Wednesday.

The amendment’s outcome fluctuated Tuesday as votes were tabulated. A day after the election, the flip flopping continued and the measure trailed by just 23 votes, according to unofficial counts by the AP and secretary of state.

The numbers could change yet again as county clerks around the state tally any uncounted votes and verify results before an Oct. 3 deadline.

Dona Ana County election officials added 742 ‘‘no’’ votes Wednesday morning but refused to immediately explain why. Deputy Clerk Mary Langford said they had come up with ‘‘a couple of sets of numbers.’’

Hours later, she said election officials miscalculated in adding up the ‘‘no’’ votes on the seven different machines used in tallying absentee and early in-person votes. She said her comment about different sets of numbers referred to the Tuesday night numbers versus the Wednesday update.

In Sandoval County, Amendment 2 appeared to have support throughout election night. The tables turned before midnight when the clerk’s office added absentee and early votes, making the ‘‘against’’ vote jump ahead.

Clerk Victoria Dunlap on Wednesday morning discovered the reason why after reviewing the numbers, which already had been submitted to the secretary of state’s office.

‘‘We transposed the numbers,’’ Dunlap said.

Eddie Gutierrez, head of the county’s bureau of elections, mistakenly listed ‘‘against’’ votes from a computer printout as ‘‘for’’ votes on a tally sheet. He tried to explain what happen by pointing to the sea of red handwritten numbers on his sheet.

The mistake — which put the amendment behind more than 2,600 votes — could have potentially altered the election’s outcome.

‘‘I don’t like that this happened,’’ Dunlap said. ‘‘You don’t want anything to go wrong with your election results.’’


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