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Clinton, Obama in N.M. deadlock

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By Carol A. Clark

Bitter cold, icy rain and blinding snow had little impact on the overwhelming turnout at caucuses and primaries that took place Tuesday in 24 states from Alaska to New York. In Los Alamos, the turnout was some 47 percent higher than in the caucus four years ago.“That’s a very high turnout for a primary election that usually has voting rates of 10-20 percent,” said Los Alamos County Democratic Party Chair Stephen Fettig this morning. “What that means is we’re going to have a wonderful turnout for the general election come Nov. 4.”Of the 4,552 Democrats registered to vote by the Jan. 4 deadline, Fettig said 2,205 voted between noon and 7 p.m. Tuesday. “To put that in perspective, that’s an average of more than 315 people voting each hour,” Fettig said. “When people talk about waiting in line for an hour, there was the parking issue and weather part of the day. Four and sometimes five registration clerks worked as fast as they could to move people through the check-in process. In Bernalillo, there were waits of more than three hours, so in terms of speed here, we did quite well.”The reason there weren’t more polling places open or a site in White Rock is because there weren’t enough volunteers, Fettig said. “This is where democracy is important – if you don’t have enough volunteers – you have long lines,” he said.In order of appearance on the ballot, which was determined by the draw from a hat, votes were cast as follows in Los Alamos County:• Barack Obama – 1,265;• John Edwards – 28;• Christopher Dodd – 2;• Dennis Kucinich – 10;• Bill Richardson – 11• Joe Biden – 5;• Hillary Clinton – 801; and• Al Gore – 1 (write-in).“Barack Obama got three votes for every two for Hillary,” Fettig said. “Los Alamos County, in their voting, is in line with Taos and Santa Fe counties, which voted more heavily for Obama. This is quite different from the voting in rural counties, which went more for Clinton.”Los Alamos County had 78 provisional ballots cast. “Those provisional votes will be very important because there were a significant number of people who work at Los Alamos National Laboratory who are registered in other counties,” Fettig said. “Their votes will be counted if they are Democrats.”Fettig explained that because the polls only stayed open until 7 p.m., as long as a person is a registered Democrat, he or she was allowed to vote in any location in New Mexico. “All the Democratic legislators who are in Santa Fe right now are from all over the state,” he said. “Unless they voted absentee, they were able to vote in Santa Fe yesterday.”Unexpected high turnout resulted in ballots running out in locations around the state, including Los Alamos. The state party originally provided 1,429 official ballots on Monday night, Fettig said. They knew that wouldn’t be enough and requested more.“They gave us 700 more emergency ballots, which are generic and don’t have the county name on them,” Fettig said. “By the middle of the afternoon Tuesday, we used up all of the original 1,400 ballots and were starting in on the emergency ballots and Fuller Lodge was packed. We got permission from the state party and ran across the street to Aspen Copy and photocopied blank ballots and ended up using some of them as well.”Velarde polling official Lou Baker said the 907 residents who voted at Velarde Elementary School set an all time record. They began the day thinking 350 ballots would be plenty. The ballots ran out by the afternoon and Baker had to call in for several hundred more.More than 150,000 votes were cast statewide in this cliffhanger race that this morning ranked each candidate at 48 percent, with Obama receiving 65,036 votes to Clinton’s 64,965, according to the Associated Press.With all but four precincts  counted as of this morning, Tuesday’s Democratic presidential caucus was simply too close to call, with Obama leading by a mere 71 votes. Even though the polls, for the most part, closed at 7 p.m., results were still coming in from four caucus sites 17 hours later. Those numbers, as well as the count from some 16,000 provisional ballots, will ultimately decide the winner.As it stands this morning, Obama won 13 states to Clinton’s eight. Obama took Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota and Utah.Clinton won Arizona, Arkansas, California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma and Tennessee. Democrats need 2,025 delegates to win the nomination and raising money is a crucial element in achieving that goal. In January, Obama brought in $32 million to Clinton’s $13.5 million.As it stands, Clinton has 582 delegates to Obama’s 485. The race is currently so close that many predict it may well go all the way to the August convention in Denver before it’s decided.Republicans need 1,191 delegates to win their nomination. Arizona Sen. John McCain was the night’s big winner. He has 516 delegates and won Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey, New York and Oklahoma.Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has 207 delegates. He won Alaska, Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota and Utah. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee came in third, winning Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee and West Virginia. He has 142 delegates. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas has nine delegates. He did not win any states Tuesday.The next round of primaries and caucuses takes place Tuesday, when Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C., will vote.