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Board to certify election results

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An unresolved Chaves County commissioner race could be decided today depending on what happens at a meeting of the county canvassing board, which is the Chaves County Board of Commissioners.

The board meets today at 2 p.m. at the Chaves County Administrative Center, 1 St. Mary’s Place, to certify the election results and decide whether to allow provisional ballots to be counted.

Chaves County Clerk Dave Kunko said he did not want to give specific numbers about potential qualifying provisional ballots at press time, as county staff are still in the process of reviewing all of them.

But he said the number being considered could be enough to change the slim 32-vote margin Republican Dara Dana now has over Democrat Michael Trujillo for the District 1 seat on the Board of Commissioners.

Dana has 1,276 votes to Trujillo’s 1,244 votes. Dana, of Dexter, is a former state representative who works for a radio station. Trujillo, a Roswell business owner and active Democratic Party member, previously served two terms as the District 1 commissioner from 2003 to 2011. They are vying for the seat held by James Duffey, who is completing his second term and could not run again.

“We have to open it (the meeting) on Friday at the very least,” said Chaves County Clerk Dave Kunko. “Then they can continue it for a week if they wish.”

He said he was unsure of exactly how long the meeting could be continued but thought decisions had to be finalized within about 10 days of the Nov. 6 Election Day.

Kunko said a primary issue right now is determining which of the 70 or so provisional ballots are considered qualified for consideration. Some people who registered online were allowed to vote without presenting identification, for example, he said, so staff are researching how long after casting their ballots people have to present their identification. Provisional ballots may also be issued when it is uncertain if someone already has voted by absentee ballot or if there are other questions about a person’s eligibility to vote.

Kunko said that a candidate can ask for a recount once canvassing is completed.

“An automatic recount is paid for by the state,” said Kunko. According to the Secretary of State website, those occur for state or federal offices in which the margin of victory is less than one half of a percent of total votes cast.

“This type of recount,” said Kunko, “would be paid for by the individual asking for a recount unless there is a change in the winner.”

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.