New Mexico Voter List Mystery Deepens
The mystery of what went wrong in New MexicoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Super Tuesday Democratic Caucus deepened on Friday. Party officials on background said they absolutely were given a bad voter list from the Secretary of State Ã¢â‚¬â€œ whose spokesman, in turn, defended the database prepared by ES&S, one of the nationÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s large private election vendors.
Meanwhile, election experts watching the New Mexico debacle, where the Democratic Party underestimated voter turnout, consolidated precincts Ã¢â‚¬â€œ causing confusion and long lines - and is now verifying and counting 17,000 provisional ballots, are not sure if those conditions alone, or a bad voter list, or both, was to blame for the nationÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s highest rate of issuing provisional ballots in years.
Either way, the ongoing story is a cautionary tale for what not to do in NovemberÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s presidential election.
First, the voter list controversy: A New Mexico Democratic Party official involved in running the caucus reached out on Friday morning hoping to dispel Ã¢â‚¬Å“misinformationÃ¢â‚¬Â about TuesdayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s vote. The official, who absolutely was in a position to know what happened, said the party used a voter database provided by the Secretary of State. Democrats assumed that list was fine until about an hour before the voting started Tuesday, when some county officials called and said their names were missing.
Apparently, those missing names, the official said, lead to many voters receiving provisional ballots, which is the fail-safe means of having people vote by later verifying their registration information before counting their ballot. The party is now calling county clerks across New Mexico and asking them to pull voter registration cards Ã¢â‚¬â€œ one at a time Ã¢â‚¬â€œ to verify the provisional ballots. The party made mistakes in running the caucus, the official said, but that paled in comparison to using a voter list with missing names.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I have a CD of your list Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a bad list, buddy,Ã¢â‚¬Â was their comment.
Next, the repeated denial from the Secretary of StateÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s office: James Flores, the spokesman for New Mexico Secretary of State Mary Herrera, a Democrat, was quick to dismiss any criticism of his officeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s voter registration data. When told of the comment by the state party official, he said, Ã¢â‚¬Å“ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s somebodyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s opinion. Anyone can say that and start a firestorm.Ã¢â‚¬Â Stepping back, Flores agreed that one New Mexico countyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s voters indeed was missing from the statewide list prepared by ES&S (Election Systems and Software). But that significant omission was discovered and fixed, he said.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“If that was a bad list the county clerks would be inundating us with phone calls,Ã¢â‚¬Â Flores said, Ã¢â‚¬Å“but we havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t gotten any calls.Ã¢â‚¬Â
When told of that reply, the party official said, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Of course, theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re going to say that!Ã¢â‚¬Â