Three races in the Tricounty area ended with election results closer than 1 percent, triggering an automatic recount under state law. The recounts produced the same results as the unofficial tally on Election Day in each case.
In the Tijeras mayor’s race, Gloria Chavez, who has held the position for 20 years, lost to Jake Bruton, a sitting councilor, by two votes.
In the Moriarty-Edgewood School District’s board race, incumbent Charles Armijo beat challenger Cris Encinias by a single vote.
In the race for Mountainair town council, the two candidates who garner the most votes are seated. Aurora Zamora won a position with 28.9 percent of the vote.
The next two, Shanna Marie Kayser and Ernie Lopez, were separated by one vote on Election Day; Lopez came out on top, by a single vote, after the recount.
In the race for mayor, 234 ballots were cast. Of those, 136 were cast during early voting; 26 were absentee ballots; and 72 were cast on Election Day, according to Floyd Vasquez, spokesman for the Bernalillo County Clerk.
The tally on Election Day’s unofficial count was the same: Bruton won 118 votes, or 50.43 percent of the vote, while Chavez got 116 votes.
Those numbers remained the same when the county canvassed the results, and was upheld again by the recount.
Vasquez told The Independent recount results were canvassed and certified by the county commission Dec. 13. Those results were sent to the Secretary of State’s office for final state certification.
Automatic recount boards were overseen by district judges, whose role was to adjudicate in the event of disagreement or confusion.
Jaime Diaz, Deputy County Clerk for Bernalillo County, said every tabulating machine is tested for accuracy before voting starts. “We do what we call a logic and accuracy test,” he explained, saying that a “test deck” is run through all machines.
The result of the test deck is known, and the machines have to match it, Diaz said. That process is open to the public, as is nearly every aspect of the voting process.
Diaz said Bernalillo County has just under 300 tabulating machines, and about 400,000 voters.
“Most of the general public sees … the county clerk as the chief elections officer—they run the elections,” Diaz said. “That sentence in itself is not correct. We administer elections. The people that run elections are really the citizens. … We always stress with poll workers to take every single person’s ballot seriously.”
Moriarty-Edgewood School Board
The regular election for the Moriarty-Edgewood School District’s board of directors was held in Torrance and Santa Fe counties, as the District 2 position includes part of both.
Election night results were 151 votes for Charles Armijo and 150 for Cris Encinias. That result was also upheld by the recount.
County Clerk Geraldine Salazar described an extensive process of canvassing—or counting—the ballots cast, starting with election officials after the polls close on Election Day.
After Election Day, the county canvasses the election, which is approved by a vote of the county commission. Beyond that, the Secretary of State’s office gives the county a list of races to check again, and the Secretary of State’s office then canvasses the county results as well, Salazar said.
When an automatic recount is triggered, an automatic recount board is put into place, headed by a district judge, she said, adding, “I believe [poll workers] are committed to the democratic process and the importance of having fair elections.”
With seven candidates vying for two positions on the town council, the two candidates with the most votes are seated.
Aurora Zamora won a seat outright, with 28.9 percent of the votes, or 152 votes.
Ernie Lopez and Shanna Marie Kayser were next in line, with 111 votes and 21.10 percent and 110 votes and 20.91 percent respectively. After the recount, those totals stand, with Lopez winning the second council seat.
Torrance County Clerk Linda Jaramillo said 600 test ballots are run through every machine to test them. “If it doesn’t come out with the expected result, you run 600 ballots again until it’s accurate,” she said.
Torrance County has 25 vote tabulating machines. “Everything has to be perfect,” Jaramillo said. “You don’t have any leeway in elections—it has to be perfection.”
Jaramillo said that occasionally there are “human errors,” but because of the way voting is set up, a voter’s right to cast a ballot is protected, through the use of provisional ballots.
“We protect every vote that comes through our office. We are here for the sake of the integrity of every single person’s vote—not party,” Jaramillo said. “We protect every vote that comes through our office. I’m so proud of our election workers.”
Leota started working for The Independent in 2006, working her way up through the ranks. An employee buyout in 2010 led to her ownership of the newspaper. Leota has served on the board of the N.M. Press Association, and is currently its First Vice President. She is passionate about health and wellness, especially mental health, and loves making art. She can be reached at email@example.com.