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Herrell not conceding House race in New Mexico

November 13, 2018

The Republican candidate in New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District says there are over 100 documented complaints about the election in Southern New Mexico that she apparently has lost by just a few thousand votes.

But Yvette Herrell is not saying exactly what allegations voters have raised. And the Secretary of State’s Office says it has not received any formal complains about the election.

Herrell’s Democratic opponent, Xochitl Torres Small, on Monday widened her lead as election officials finalize the tallies of provisional ballots in the hard-fought race for the Southern New Mexico district.

Herrell, a state legislator from Alamogordo, claimed victory on election night as early results showed her with a small lead in the district that Republican congressman and gubernatorial candidate Steve Pearce has held since 2010.

But Doña Ana County officials were still counting thousands of absentee ballots on a night that turned out to belong to Democratic candidates across much of New Mexico, thanks to higher turnout than past midterm elections.

The clerk in Doña Ana, the congressional district’s most populous county, said her staff was overwhelmed by an unexpected number of absentee ballots. It had received more than 8,000 this year, compared to 3,456 in 2016, a presidential election year when overall turnout was even higher.

After a lengthy process overseen by representatives from both parties, polling officials finished counting the absentee ballots last Wednesday. The updated numbers vaulted Torres Small into the lead by about 2,800 votes.

Her advantage grew Monday to about 3,500, or 1.8 percent of the total vote, as Doña Ana County reported the tallies from about 1,100 provisional ballots.

Herrell appeared on Fox News Channel over the weekend, where host Jeanine Pirro described the congressional candidate as “believing the race is being stolen away from her.”

“Everybody goes to bed on Tuesday night thinking that I’ve been declared the winner, and then suddenly on Wednesday morning they start hearing that there were 8,000 ballots that came up out of nowhere,” Herrell said on Fox News.

Herrell went on to say that there are “over 100 documented complaints about things that happened here in this race.”

“If there’s problems, let’s fix them,” she said.

A spokesman for Herrell did not respond to email or voice messages Monday seeking details about her allegations.

Alex Curtas, a spokesman for the Secretary of State’s Office, said its staff had not received any formal complaints.

“Doña Ana County voters can have every confidence that their votes were counted properly and in accordance with the law, and any suggestion that absentee ballots were somehow ‘magically found’ on election night is simply false,” he said.

Herrell could contest the race in state District Court after a canvassing board — the governor, secretary of state and chief justice of the state Supreme Court — finalizes election results Nov. 27.

But Torres Small’s lead is larger than the one-fourth of 1 percent threshold for an automatic recount.

“The people have spoken,” said state Democratic Party Chairwoman Marg Elliston.

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