New Mexico Recount Laws

This information was updated 7/3/2018.

Voting System Used: 

Paper ballot (optical scanners)

For more details, visit Verified Voting.

Counting Method : 

Required hand count of a sample of ballots in addition to other counting methods
Mix of hand count and retabulation

New Mexico uses only paper ballots that are tabulated by optical scanners. For automatic recounts initiated by a close vote margin, before the recount begins, a random sample of ballots is both recounted by hand and retabulated by machine to determine the counting method. See Section 1-14-23(A) regarding the size of the sample, which varies depending on the office.

According to Section 1-14-23 (B): “If the results of the hand tally and the electronic vote tabulating system tabulation do not differ, the remaining ballots shall be recounted using that electronic vote tabulating system. If the results of the hand tally and the electronic vote tabulating system differ, the electronic vote tabulating system shall not be used in the recount and the remaining ballots shall be recounted by hand or on a different electronic vote tabulating system in which the results did not differ.” 

Candidates can initiate not only recounts but also alternatively “rechecks,” which are electronic reviews of tabulator counts without any use of the ballots.  See the “candidate-initiated options” below.

Initiating Mechanisms: 

Election official-initiated
Audit-initiated
Close vote margin
Candidate-initiated
Voter-initiated

Election Official-Initiated Recounts

“If it appears that defective returns cannot be corrected without a recount of the paper ballots, the county canvassing board shall immediately notify the district court…[which] shall fix a time and place… for a recount of the paper ballots from the precinct.”  See Section 1-12-68.

Timing: See Section 1-12-68
 

Audit-Initiated Recounts:

A “voting system check” performed by an auditor is conducted for all federal offices, and for governor, as well as for that statewide office other than governor “for which the winning candidate won by the smallest percentage margin of all candidates for statewide office.” However, “The voting system check is waived for any office for which a recount is conducted.” See Section-1-14-13.2(A).  The audit process involves a hand recount for a given number of precincts for each office. Based on a comparison of this hand count with the initial vote count, the auditor shall establish an error rate. If the hand count decreases the margin of victory, and if the error rate is more than 90% of that margin, an additional sample of ballots is audited. If, after this second-round audit, the error rate is still more than 90% of the margin of victory, a full hand recount of all ballots for that office must be conducted. See Section 1-14-13.2(D).

Timing: See Section 1-14-13.2(B).

Close Vote Margin Options: 

Less than or equal to 0.25%
Less than or equal to 1%
Initiated automatically

A close vote margin of “less than one-fourth of one percent of the total votes cast for that office” initiates a recount “for a federal or statewide office, or a judicial office in a county with more than two hundred thousand registered qualified electors.” For “any other state office,” the trigger is a margin “less than one percent of the total votes cast for that office.” These are referred to as “automatic recounts,” and the law applies to both primary and general elections. See Section 1-14-24.

Timing: See Section 1-14-16.

Candidate-Initiated Options : 

Candidate determines how many/which precincts to be recounted

Any candidate who “believes that any error or fraud has been committed by any precinct board in counting or tallying the ballots, in the verification of the votes cast on the voting machines or in the certifying of the results of any election whereby the results of the election in the precinct have not been correctly determined, declared or certified” may file for a recount or recheck. See Section 1-14-14.

Timing: Requests must be made within six days after completion of the canvass (Section 1-14-14), and election officials must begin the recount not more than ten days after a request is made (Section 1-14-16).

Voter-Initiated Options: 

Voters determine how many/which precincts to recount
Voters may request recounts for initiatives/questions 

For the specific case of an election to adopt the local option of the Liquor Control Act, “Applications for contests, recounts or rechecks may be filed by any person who voted in the election.” See Section 60-5A-1(D).

Timing: See Sections 60-5A-1(D)1-14-14.

Cost for Candidate-Initiated Recounts: 

Initiator pays set or per jurisdiction fee
Initiator pays deposit or bond before recount 
Payer of costs depends on outcome of recount

The initiator pays a per-precinct or per-machine deposit before the recount or recheck, respectively. The amount is determined by the state canvassing board by March 15th of each even-numbered year. The deposit is refunded if the recount or recheck changes the outcome of the election. Otherwise, the initiator is responsible for the actual costs. See Section 1-14-15.

Cost for Voter-Initiated Recounts: 

Initiator pays set or per jurisdiction fee
Initiator pays deposit or bond before recount
Payer of costs depends on outcome of recount

See Sections 60-5A-1(D) & 1-14-15 for information on the costs of a recount or recheck in an election to adopt the local option of the Liquor Control Act.

Challengers and Observers : 

Statutes specify that recount must be public
Party/candidate or initiator has statutory authority to appoint observers
No statutory guidance for recount challengers

For recounts that are initiated via an audit, Section 1-14-13.2(F) states that designated county canvass observers may observe the hand recounting initiated by the voting system check described in that same section. Candidates, political parties, and “election-related organizations,” may each appoint one county canvass observer per county, if they file a request ten days before the election begins. See Section 1-2-31.

For recounts initiated by a candidate or close vote margin, Section 1-14-16(C) states that the recount shall be conducted “in the presence of the county clerk, district judge and any other person who may desire to be present.”

The New Mexico Administrative Code provides rules governing the observers. See Section 1.10.23.8.

Rules for Determining Voter Intent: 

Statutory guidance provided
Secretary of State or Election Board responsible for defining intent

The Secretary of State is required to issue rules for reviewing “the qualification of provisional ballot envelopes, [and] absentee and other paper ballots” for recounts. See Section 1-14-22. Standards for what constitutes a vote, with illustrative examples, are given by New Mexico Administrative Code Section 1.10.23.12.

State Has Audit Laws: 
Yes
Revision Notes: 

New Mexico's 2017 statutes contain two distinct sections of law regarding recounts. Statutes for recounts for county, statewide, and federal offices can be found in Chapter 1, “Elections,” Article 14, “Contests and Recounts.” There is a separate set of statutes for recounts in municipalities, contained in Chapter 3, “Municipalities,” Article 8, “Municipal Elections.” However, effective July 1, 2018, this distinction is removed by HB 98 (2018), signed by the governor as Chapter 79 on March 7, 2018. That change includes repeal of the relevant sections of Article 3-8 and broadening the language of relevant sections of Article 1-14. The present summary has been revised using the 2017 statutes. It also includes the changes from HB 98 (2018).