DISTRICT COURT ORDERS BALLOT INFORMATION IMPOUNDED;

DISTRICT COURT ORDERS BALLOT INFORMATION IMPOUNDED;

Acting on a petition filed by Third Judicial District Attorney Susana Martinez, District Judge Robert Robles has dispatched the New Mexico State Police to the Doña Ana County Courthouse to oversee ballot canvassing and, once the canvassing is complete, impound voting materials related to the Nov. 7 General Election.
Martinez petitioned as a candidate for the District Attorney’s position. She is the incumbent, and unofficial vote tallies indicate she won the hotly contested race for her seat against Democratic opponent Kent Yalkut.
The materials affected by the order include: ballot tally sheets, registration certificates, paper ballots, absentee ballots, statements of canvas, absentee ballot applications, absentee ballot registers, absentee ballot envelopes, all paperwork reflecting those persons voting by machine, paperwork showing individual voter numbers, face plates used on all voting machines and emergency ballots.
The order targets all early and absentee voting records in Doña Ana County.
Although the original order called upon the State Police to take immediate custody of the affected records, a handwritten addendum to the court order stipulates that physical custody of the materials shall not be surrendered until the county’s canvassing efforts are complete. In the meantime, however, a State Police officer has been assigned to guard the records while canvassing continues. Once the canvas is complete, the target materials will be seized by State Police and impounded in the offices of the District Court for safekeeping.
County Clerk Rita Torres said there has been no indication of any improprieties associated with either the election process in Doña Ana County or the canvassing that is underway. Torres estimated canvassing would be complete by mid- to late-week this week.
Interim County Manager Judy Price said the first indication that the ballots and other materials might be seized occurred on the afternoon of Nov. 11, when the media began calling the Clerk’s office to ask about an impoundment effort orchestrated out of Albuquerque. County officials, she said, consulted individually with members of the Board of County Commissioners, the Clerk’s Office, the Legal Department and the Public Information Office to monitor the situation and respond accordingly.
“We have cooperated fully with the State Police and the courts in this matter,” Price said. “Besides the presidential race, other races in New Mexico are very close. We’ll continue to cooperate in any way that helps resolve any issues at hand.”
In addition to Robles, the court order affecting the records is signed two attorneys: William L. Lutz of Las Cruces, who represents Martinez; and Douglas Driggers of Las Cruces, who represents State Court of Appeals Judge candidate Celia Foy Castillo.
For more information, call the Doña Ana County Public Information Office at (505) 647-7229 or toll-free from outside Las Cruces at 1-877-827-7200, extension 7229.