In the wake of a disastrous Super Tuesday here in New Mexico, the Democratic party is at this moment still counting some 17,000 provisional ballots. The KUNM Call-In Show
today had on investigative journalist Greg Palast
to discuss why there was such a large number of disenfranchised voters, once again, in New Mexico.
I happened upon the show on my way to work and listened to caller after caller relay similar stories of disorganized polling stations with many waiting in lines for hours to find out that they were not on the voting list and that they would have to fill out provisional ballots.
Most people, including myself, have chalked this up to a disorganized Democratic Party working out the kinks as they adjust to a new caucus procedure. Upon further examination, however, there seems to be much more amiss than simple disorganization. I learned a few very disturbing facts in my 20 minute drive to work. Mr. Palast stated that he talked to Secretary of State Mary Herrera's spokesperson who he quoted as saying "That was a privately run caucus and we don't care." An interesting perspective coming from the office that is third in line to governing the state.
A little more clarity can be gleamed from the fact that the private company, Election Systems and Software is the sole private contractor responsible for establishing a centralized election management system for the state of New Mexico. A centrally managed private system was federally mandated by the Help Amercia Vote Act of 2002 sponsored by the Bush Administration for all states to receive federal funding. Its ironic that the Help America Vote Act was a response to the mayhem of the 2000 election and is responsible for creating the seemingly very popular provisional ballots.
Back to Election Systems and Software... this private company has contributed to the campaign of Secretary of State Mary Herrera. That in and of itself is disturbing, but it gets worse when I learned that the Secretary of State does not have direct access to the voter rolls in New Mexico. She has to first go through ES&S. Let me repeat, the Secretary of State for the State of New Mexico needs to be granted access to our "democratic" voter registration rolls by a private company. These private voter rolls were the ones used in the 2008 Super Tuesday Democratic Caucus.
Who exactly is Election Systems and Software
? They, like many of the private voter companies, were founded by staunch partisan republicans
and their voting machines have a history of problems and decertification by various states. The main question from the New Mexican citizenry is obvious... why are these guys running our elections? And why is the Secretary of State in bed with them?
Mr. Palast warned that this number of 17,000 disenfranchised voters may be a drop in the bucket come November if action is not taken. Anybody heard from the Governor lately... oh yeah he's having a showdown to prove he's not a lame duck. Meanwhile our voting system is the laughing stock of the nation and we as a state are at the mercy of a private republican company come November.
I've had better drives to work.