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Still Counting Ballots in New Mexico

Touristclick Mexico Travel News

Still Counting Ballots in New Mexico

By Katharine Q. Seelye

They are still counting ballots in New Mexico to determine the winner of Tuesday’s Democratic caucuses.

According to preliminary results posted on the party’s Web site, with all precincts reporting, Senator Hillary Clinton was leading Senator Barack Obama by less than 1,100 votes. But more than 17,000 provisional ballots had yet to be counted.

Brian S. Colon, chairman of the state party, said he did not know how soon those ballots would be counted but the party has until Feb. 15 to certify the election. Provisional ballots are given to people who show up at the wrong site or are not on the registration rolls.

New Mexico is the only state of the 22 that held Democratic contests on Tuesday where the outcome remains in doubt. At stake are 26 delegates, who are to be allocated proportionately; the state has an additional 12 so-called superdelegates who are not bound by the caucus results.

On Tuesday, Mrs. Clinton won 67,011 votes, or 43.4 percent of those cast, compared with Mr. Obama’s 65,945 votes, or 42.7 percent. A smattering of votes went to other candidates.

There were reports Tuesday of chaos at some caucus sites, with some voters waiting in line for more than three hours as more than three times the normal number showed up to vote. Some sites also ran out of ballots. (Although the process is a caucus, it uses paper ballots.)

Mr. Colon said he took responsibility for the problems. “We absolutely miscalculated and I apologize,” he told The Associated Press earlier this week. “It’s a tragedy when folks are not afforded the opportunity to vote.”

But Mr. Colon said in an interview Thursday that the problems on Tuesday are unrelated to the counting of the provisional ballots and the undetermined outcome.

As part of the certification process of the election, all ballots cast — more than 150,000 in this case — are being put through a scanner and essentially re-counted, but this is not the same thing as a legal “recount.” Once the results are certified, someone could demand a recount, but Mr. Colon said that at this point, neither campaign had signaled its intentions.

“I’ve had no indication that I should be expecting a recount,” Mr. Colon said, noting that both campaigns have observers at the accounting firm that is counting the provisional ballots and certifying the results.

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