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New Mexico: Richardson Calls For Paper Ballots Statewide PDF  | Print |  Email
By Warren Stewart, Director of Legislative Issues and Policy, VoteTrustUSA   
January 12, 2006
Governor Proposes Legislation Requiring Paper Based System In Every County

[Link to Governor Richardson's Press Release]

At a press conference in Santa Fe today, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson said that he will propose legislation that requires a paper ballot voting system in all counties and asking that lawmakers allocate $11 million to help pay for needed software and voting machines. According to an Albuquerque Journal article Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron and Attorney General Patricia Madrid support the switch to the paper ballot system. The press conference was attended by many election reform activists including representatives of Verified Voting New Mexico and United Voters of New Mexico, two groups that have labored tirelessly for verifiable elections in the state. Richardson generously invited activists, clerks, and legislators to speak at the press conference and their was uniform praise for the Governor's proposal.

Richardson noted that New Mexico currently uses 6 different sytems, a situation that results in added costs and complications in assembling election results. He observed that irregularities in New Mexico's election data had received national attention and through his proposed unified system, he intended New Mexico to lead the nation in trustworthy election processes. Richardson also pointed out that a uniform paper based systems will save the state in the long run in spite of the initial cost of implementation, a fact born out by numerous studies from states across the country.

Attorney General Madrid emphasized the need to end legal-theory based election challenges that seem to becoming more common around the nation with a system the voters can trust and leaves behind a paper ballot that have been verified by the voter.  She pointed out that if this bill is passed as proposed in this outline that it would probably moot the current injunciton being brough to stop the implementation of certain DRE system, since "it gives them everything they are asking for".  Her legal spokesman noted that despite the attourney general's leadership on guiding the proposed legislation, in the meantime the state is legal obligated to contest the injunction since it confilcts with the SOS's plans for meeting the current NM laws).

Speaking for Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron who was unable to attend the press conference, State Election Director Ernest Marquez said that if lawmakers approve the proposed legislation it would be possible to have a paper ballot system in operation statewide across in November — depending on whether enough ballot tabulating machines, software and other equipment can be quickly purchased. In addition to the funding proposed by Richardson, New Mexico is already in receipt of over $9 million in federally funding for voting system upgrades.

While there are some technical issues regarding funding that remain to be worked out and the actual legislation was not yet available for review, Richardson's announcement marks a significant victory for election reform activists in the state. The adoption of a uniform paper ballot optical scan voting system with ballot-marking devices to assist those with disabilities is a tremendous step toward restoring confidence in the accuracy and security of elections in New Mexico. this is a victory for all New Mexicans.
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