Irrigation district certifies Baca as election winner

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Joaquin Baca and Simon T. “Scooter” Haynes

The Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District board on Friday officially declared Joaquin Baca the winner in the June 8 election for a position in Bernalillo County.

The council was set up to solicit and declare the results of the June 11 elections.

But candidate Simon “Scooter” Haynes contested his loss to Baca.

Haynes said the ballots cast before June 5 were incomplete because they did not include his nickname “Scooter.”

Lorna Wiggins, general counsel for MRGCD, said her law firm’s investigation concluded Baca won the election ‘hands down’ even though the first ballots not including the nickname were rejected .

The official results showed that Haynes received 576 votes against 1,609 for Baca. The board of directors voted to certify all advance, mail, provisional and election day ballots for the race.

“We have concluded that the omission of Mr. Haynes (name) or common nickname does not appear to have affected the outcome of the election,” Wiggins said at a special meeting on June 25.

Haynes also said it was “unfair” that Baca was at the MRGCD office on election night.

Wiggins said Baca arrived at the district office after the polls closed and was never in the room where the votes were counted.

Haynes’ lawyer had told the MRGCD’s legal team that a voter was “turned away” on polling day.

Poll workers were unable to promptly confirm whether the voter’s property, held in a family trust, was within the boundaries of the conservation district.

Wiggins said the legal team had not confirmed the allegation that election officials failed to track the voter, but said there was “no evidence that multiple qualified voters were denied the right to vote “.

“Thank you for taking my concerns seriously,” Haynes told the board.

The board also certified the re-election of Karen Dunning and Michael Sandoval, and the victory of Chilean Socorro County farmer Glen Duggins.

“The result of this election was legitimate,” Baca said. “The voters have spoken. I am grateful for their faith and confidence in my continued leadership on this board. ”

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