- Associated Press - Friday, June 5, 2020

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - Republican election observers are expressing frustration as Santa Fe County officials spent a fourth day tallying absentee ballots from Tuesday’s primary election.

Presiding ballot judge Paul D’Arcy said that seven more people joined the vote-count effort, with several thousand uncounted ballots remaining on Friday morning.

The Republican primary remains undecided for the 3rd Congressional District for the chance to compete against Democratic nominee Teresa Leger Fernandez in an open race. U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan is running as the Democratic nominee for Senate to succeed retiring Sen. Tom Udall.

The majority of New Mexico primary voters shifted to absentee balloting as authorities including Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham urged people to cast ballots by mail to minimize coronavirus risks.

State Republican Party Chairman Steve Pearce said Friday that the party’s poll challengers have been unable to view preliminary reports of vote tallies and were unable to verify procedures that ensure the exclusion of late-arriving ballots.

“It’s an entire mess,” he said.

Santa Fe County Clerk Geraldine Salazar said that Republican Party election observers were “afforded all courtesy and provided all information” upon request from her staff.

Election workers for the Santa Fe County clerk’s office on Friday continued to examine ballots one by one on Friday. Six write-in candidates were running for public office, complicating the vote-tally effort.

The GOP congressional contenders are Navajo Nation member Karen Evette Bedonie of Mexican Springs, environmental engineer Alexis Johnson of Santa Fe and former Santa Fe County commissioner Harry Montoya.

Democrats have monopolized the 3rd Congressional District with the exception of one special election, starting with former Gov. Bill Richardson in 1982.

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