Dispute over amended returns may delay final New Mexico certification
SANTA FE, New Mexico (CNN) -- Amended results from one county changed the
state's final tally in the presidential election Thursday, giving Democrat Al
Gore a 368-vote lead over Republican George W. Bush, the New Mexico secretary
of state said.
"My understanding is that our job is basically over and certification is completed," said Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron, a Democrat.
Not so, Republican Gov. Gary Johnson's office said. Spokeswoman Diane Kinderwater said the governor has called a meeting of the state canvassing board, of which he is a member, for Tuesday at 3 p.m. MT (5 p.m. ET) to accept the revised returns from Roosevelt County and officially amend the conditional certification that was issued earlier this week.
Vigil-Giron, who also sits on the canvassing board, said she has not been notified of the meeting. Kinderwater said the secretary of state's office was informed Thursday afternoon of the meeting for next week.
The governor, secretary of state and state Supreme Court Chief Justice Pamela Minzier, a Democrat, make up the canvassing board.
Tuesday, state officials issued a conditional certification naming Gore as the winner with a 483-vote margin, but said certification would not take effect until Thursday after a district court judge could review the status of 570 disputed ballots in Roosevelt County that were not counted for either candidate.
Republicans said the 10 percent "undervote" was "significantly higher" than other New Mexico counties and asked for another check. That check determined that a glitch in the county's voting machines did not record presidential votes for ballots that were cast for a straight party ticket.
Kinderwater said that conditional certification was based on District Court Judge David Bonem's reception of a letter about the reasons for the amended return and his acceptance of the explanation after he investigated the causes.
That being done, Kinderwater said the governor felt the canvassing board must meet to accept the new returns.
Vigil-Giron said the matter has been dealt with.
"I know that the issue was resolved," she said. "That was all we asked for -- for Roosevelt County to certify their results."
The winner in New Mexico is awarded five electoral votes.
Candidates have six business days from the date of the final certification to ask for a recount. According to the secretary of state, that deadline is Friday Dec. 8. Kinderwater agreed that the deadline is six days after certification, but said the date of that deadline would not be known until after Tuesday's meeting.
Challenges to the election results must be filed within 30 business days of the certification.
There's been no word from the Bush campaign on whether it will contest the election.