Meanwhile In The Real “Wild” West

Update, Another Problem, this time in FL: In the “Wild” South an Audit catches uncounted votes, almost 20% of the total <read>.

When it comes to elections, what happens in any precinct in New Mexico can determine who sits in the Oval Office and the balance in our U.S. Senate and House. What happens in any election district in Connecticut can do the same for National offices and in addition determine our Governor and the balance in the Connecticut House and Senate.

Earlier this year in the Danbury Connecticut public hearing, one member of the Government Elections and Administration Committee compared our election system to the “Wild West”. This was based on the failures to follow procedures along with the lack of consistency in the process from one Connecticut town to the next. Many of these issues were evident in the coalition observation reports and in the recent investigative report showing more ballots cast that voters checked-off in Bridgeport.

It seems that the real west, is still pretty wild with this Sun News story from New Mexico: NM revises recount procedure in close races <read>

Like Connecticut, New Mexico law does not require hand recounts. While Connecticut has recently revised procedures to eliminate hand recounts, New Mexico, faced with a close election and a concerned candidate they are rethinking their procedure:

The secretary of state’s office has revised procedures for recounts in close primary election contests, including a state Senate race in which some ballots are missing in one county.

The change came as one of the candidates in the Senate race voiced objections to the recount plan.

Secretary of State Mary Herrera said earlier this week that the recount would be conducted by having counties recheck the results of voting machines—inserting memory cards into tabulators and printing out the results. A change was announced Thursday.

Now, paper ballots will be fed into the tabulators again for the recount except in two Cibola County precincts where ballots are missing. When necessary, ballots will be counted by hand. Provisional ballots, for example, are handed tallied.

Unfortunately, that is not possible:

[Clemente Sanchez, a Grants Democrat who finished second in the Senate contest] said he remained troubled by the missing ballots in two precincts in Grants. About 180 votes were cast with the missing ballots, according to the secretary of state’s office.

“To this day nobody knows what happened to them. It amazes me,” said Sanchez.

New Mexico implemented its paper ballot voting system in 2006 to try to make voting more secure and restore the public’s confidence in elections.

Ballots are supposed to be removed from a storage bin underneath a tabulator and placed in a separate ballot box, which is to be locked and transferred to the county clerk’s office.

Apparently, the ballots in the two precincts were not locked away in ballot boxes after polls closed. Ballots are supposed to be removed from a storage bin underneath a tabulator and placed in a separate ballot box, which is to be locked and transferred to the county clerk’s office.

As in our situation in Bridgeport, election officials did not find/report the problem.

However, Sanchez said he was unhappy that candidates were not told about the missing ballots by county elections officials and that the issue was not disclosed publicly when the county canvassed its election results. Sanchez learned of the missing ballots from news reports. The missing ballots were first disclosed in a story last week by The Associated Press.

Better late than never, however, the time to revise procedures is before an election. Otherwise there could be ethical questions of bias based on the politics of the Secretary of the State and that of the loser in the initial count.


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