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Published: Tuesday, 11/14/2000

New Mexico race tightens as votes found

FROM THE BLADE'S WIRE SERVICES

SANTA FE, N.M.- The presidential race in New Mexico remained too close to call yesterday as canvassing in individual counties turned up errors that could affect the outcome of the election.

Unofficial figures from the secretary of state have Texas Gov. George W. Bush leading by four votes out of 600,000 cast statewide, but the canvassing discovered at least an additional 500 votes for Vice President Gore and at least 121 extra votes for Bush.

New Mexico's five electoral votes are not enough to settle the presidential race but could become vital if a recount in Florida spreads to other states.

Election official Rocio Gamboa said that in Dona Ana County in southern New Mexico, an election worker had entered the wrong number of votes for Mr. Gore in a computer while tallying absentee ballots from one precinct.

The unofficial tally of the secretary of state, which shows Mr. Bush leading by a mere four votes, does not reflect the canvassing reports but does include a recount of 67,000 absentee and early-voting ballots on Friday in the state's largest county, Bernalillo.

In four others states with close presidential votes, county-by-county examinations of totals are under way, raising the possibility of recounts.

A rundown:

wIowa: Mr. Gore leads by 4,285 votes out of nearly 1.3 million cast.

The Vice President's lead was narrowed after county officials yesterday began counting absentee votes and ballots that were challenged on Election Day.

Challenged ballots include situations in which a voter had moved and was not listed on the new rolls. These ballots were held back and not counted initially, but officials are adding those that are determined to be legitimate to the total.

The counties are expected to finish their canvassing by today. All requests for a recount must be made to a county within three days of the canvass - either Thursday or Friday.

The Bush campaign sent one or two representatives to monitor this process and will decide when it is finished whether to request a full recount. Democrats didn't bring in any extra personnel, but Mr. Gore's Iowa staff was keeping tabs on the situation.

If a recount is ordered, each county would have 18 days after its canvass to complete the new tally. A recount could cover the entire state or target specific counties.

wOregon: Mr. Gore leads by 4,846 votes out of nearly 1.4 million cast, with more than 99 per cent of votes counted.

Mr. Gore's margin was trimmed yesterday as officials continued counting the state's mail-in ballots. About 23,000 are left to be counted, and officials expect to be finished by week's end.

A recount would be required by state law if the margin falls to less than one-fifth of 1 per cent, or about 2,800 votes. Mr. Gore's lead is not likely to fall that low, but if a recount is called, it is expected to be the first week of December.

The Bush campaign has said it is waiting to see the final count before deciding whether to seek a recount on its own.

wWisconsin: Mr. Gore leads by 6,099 votes out of 2.5 million cast.

The Bush campaign has not ruled out a recount in Wisconsin. It cannot request one until all 72 counties turn in certified vote tallies, which are due Friday. The campaign would then have three business days to request a recount.

The state Republican Party said it has received 800 complaints of questionable polling procedures from around the state, including 600 from Milwaukee County. The GOP has asked the Milwaukee County district attorney, E. Michael McCann, to look into the allegations, which include voters getting two ballots or being told they already had voted. Mr. McCann said yesterday that while there are some irregularities, so far investigators have found no evidence of voter fraud.

wNew Hampshire: Mr. Bush leads by 7,211 out of more than 540,000 votes cast.

Yesterday was the deadline to ask for a recount, and none was requested. A review of votes found proofreading and computer errors, which trimmed Mr. Bush's lead by 958 votes. An error at the secretary of state's office gave Mr. Bush 1,000 too many votes in one Nashua ward.



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