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New Mexico certifies election sweep by Democrats

November 28, 2018
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New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, right, and Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, left, certify election results and order recounts in a handful of state House races in Santa Fe, N.M., on Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018, as members of the State Canvassing Board. New Mexico is certifying election results that give Democrats unfettered control of every statewide office and the state's five-member delegation to Capitol Hill. (AP Photo/Morgan Lee)

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico’s State Canvassing Board certified midterm election results Tuesday that consolidate Democratic control over all statewide elected offices and the state’s five-member delegation to Capitol Hill.

The board, which is composed of termed-out Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, state Supreme Court Chief Justice Judith Nakamura and Democratic Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, confirmed election results in all but three closely contested state legislative races where recounts are pending.

If current results stand in the recounts, Democrats will command a 46-24 majority in the state House of Representatives.

Martinez and former Republican Party national committeeman Pat Rogers peppered state election regulators with questions and criticism of online application procedures for absentee ballots during a heated hour-long discussion.

Absentee ballots are the focus of litigation by defeated Republican congressional candidate Yvette Herrell, who lost the 2nd Congressional District race to Democrat Xochitl Torres Small by 3,722 votes. Deputy Secretary of State John Blair said Tuesday that absentee ballots obtained online accounted for 2,823 votes in the race.

Registered New Mexico voters can request an absentee ballot through an online portal if they provide a date of birth, driver’s license number, Social Security number and affirm their identity.

Martinez questioned whether online authentication of a voter’s identity is sufficient without a handwritten signature. Her comments echoed written questions submitted by Herrell’s attorney to the secretary of state’s office on Monday.

Toulouse Oliver described lines of questioning from Martinez and others as “political theater” and repetitive. She said the online process for requesting an absentee ballot is more rigorous than traditional paper applications that don’t reference motor vehicle records.

“I do know that at the end of the day we followed the law,” said Toulouse Oliver, who won re-election by a wide margin.

Recounts were ordered in two state House races where the margins of victory were less than 1 percent, and a third recount is likely to be ordered Friday.

Democratic state Rep. George Dodge of Santa Rosa trails Republican challenger Martin Zamora by fewer than 30 votes in an eastern New Mexico district, according to uncertified results ahead of the recount.

Appointed Republican state Rep. Gregg Schmedes of Tijeras leads Democrat Jessica Velasquez in a sprawling rural district east of Albuquerque.

Democrat Abbas Akhil leads Republican state Rep. Jim Dines by fewer than 100 votes in uncertified results for an Albuquerque-based seat.

Martinez will be succeeded as governor by Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham, who defeated Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce by a 14-percent margin.

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