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County board ratifies local election results

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The county results for the 2019 regular local election are now official.

The Chaves County Board of Commissioners, which also serves as the Chaves County Canvassing Board, voted unanimously to accept the election results Tuesday afternoon at a special meeting held in the Chaves County Administrative Center.

Chaves County Clerk Dave Kunko said that the final tabulations of absentee, early voting and voting on Election Day on Nov. 5, as well as eight provisional ballots that had to be reviewed for their legitimacy after the election, did not affect the outcome of any contest or race.

Preliminary results were published and posted by the Roswell Daily Record. The final counts also are posted on the New Mexico Secretary of State website, sos.state.nm.us.

He told commissioners that of the eight provisional ballots cast, one was determined to be ineligible because the person had insisted on voting for a certain precinct, but, in fact, had not changed his or her registration to the new address. Of the remaining provisional ballots, four had been cast on Election Day, three in Dexter and one in Roswell. Three had been cast during the early voting period, with one in Pinon and two in Roswell.

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Voters approved school general obligation bonds for Dexter and Hagerman public schools; elected K12 public school board members in Roswell, Dexter, Hagerman and Lake Arthur; cast ballots for three board members of Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell; and voted for municipal judges and officials in Lake Arthur and Hagerman, as well as supervisors for several different soil and water conservation districts serving the county.

Kunko said the area had 33,060 registered voters able to vote in the elections, with 2,926 people casting ballots, an 8.85% turnout. Forty percent voted either by absentee ballot (104) or during early voting (1,061). The remaining 60% (1,761) voted on Election Day.

“This was our first regular local election. To me, it was a historical moment because I lobbied to combine these smaller elections for years,” he said. “Needless to say, I am kind of disappointed in the way it turned out. I think it is something that will be awesome in the future, but I think this first one turned out to be basically a school board election.  … If you know anyone from the city, I am hoping that maybe we can get them to opt-in at some point, and I think that this could become a really amazing thing with more people showing up.”

The comment drew some chuckles as Roswell Mayor Dennis Kintigh was in the room at the time, as he was participating in a later part of the commissioners meeting.

The law changed during the 2019 legislative session to allow for a Local Election Day during November of odd-numbered years. Municipalities and other districts could choose whether to allow county clerk offices to handle their elections, or to hold their own. The city of Roswell has chosen to hold its own municipal elections, which will occur in March.

Commissioner Dara Dana bemoaned the low turnout and asked what could be done in the future to encourage better participation.

“We sure need to let people know that hopefully from now on every November (there will be an election.) And I say this because I have campaigned a lot, every election is important,” she said.

In even-numbered years, general elections for presidential, gubernatorial and state officials will occur.

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