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When Will We Know Who Won? N.M. Secretary of State Hopeful For Swift Ballot Count

Hannah Colton / KUNM
N.M. election officials say a record number of absentee ballots were requested this election. At this point, they recommend dropping absentee ballots at a voting site, not mailing them.

With a record number of absentee ballots requested in New Mexico, there are questions about how long it will take to find out the results of the 2020 election. State election officials say they’re hopeful they’ll have a final tally within a couple days of Election Day.

About three quarters of the more than 380,000 absentee ballots requested in New Mexico have already been cast during early voting. As of Thursday, Oct. 29, all counties have begun processing those ballots. 

At an online briefing Thursday, Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver said she’s hopeful that head start will help counties get through the majority of the ballots by election day, and that it won’t take much longer to finish up. “I’m feeling optimistic,” she said, “that we should be able to get through the absentee vote count within a day or two after Election Day.”

Even if the count isn’t finalized until after Nov. 3, Toulouse Oliver says that doesn’t mean we won’t have any results that night. “We’ll know what we know on election night in term of the distribution of the votes and the margins of potential victory,” she said. “And we should be able to make some pretty clear calls on election night in a lot of races.”

The secretary says her office will work to provide a clear picture of what is and isn’t known on election night. They’ll detail preliminary results and ballot counts at NMvote.org, and flag any close races that could be decided by outstanding ballots.

Election officials say ballots mailed after Oct. 27 may not arrive in time. So, if you haven’t yet returned yours, you can drop it off at an early voting site, the county clerk’s office, or any Election Day polling place. Find information about voting locations in your area and hours of operation at your county clerk's website.

Nash Jones (they/them) is a general assignment reporter in the KUNM newsroom and the local host of NPR's All Things Considered (weekdays on KUNM, 5-7 p.m. MT). You can reach them at nashjones@kunm.org or on Twitter @nashjonesradio.
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