New Mexico’s midterm election results were certified Tuesday, but not before a dispute over the legality of online absentee ballots applications roiled a meeting of the State Canvassing Board and prompted questions from Gov. Susana Martinez about whether Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver had overstepped her legal authority. While the secretary of state, a Democrat, staunchly defended the program’s legal moorings and the integrity of this year’s general election results, Martinez, a Republican, and others suggested the online absentee ballot requests could open the door to voter fraud. “This is a statutory process, and the statute wasn’t followed,” Pat Rogers, an Albuquerque lawyer, said during Tuesday’s meeting at the state Capitol.
Absentee ballots played a key role in determining the outcome of at least one contest this month – New Mexico’s hotly contested 2nd Congressional District race.
Democrat Xochitl Torres Small defeated Republican Yvette Herrell by 3,722 votes in a race in which nearly 200,000 ballots were cast, according to final results certified Tuesday by the Canvassing Board.
But Torres Small had been trailing in the race until more than 8,000 absentee ballots cast in Doña Ana County – more than double the amount cast in previous years – were added to the vote tally and vaulted her into the lead.