Who Really Won?

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

New Mexico Phantoms

Undervotes? New Mexico's got 'em. Just another allowable sloppy vote tabulation, move along...

Does it really seem possible that 17,095 people (almost 1 in 20) felt compelled stand in line on Election Day in order to cast no vote for president? Did 1,664 people actually bother to cast their non-vote early and another 2,325 express their lack of opinion by absentee ballot? It seems just as likely that some of those undervotes represent votes that were not counted by the machines - and we will never know about how those votes might have affected the outcome.

Had she chosen to spend a little more time on undervote issues she might have noticed the curious fact that 85% of these apathetic voters chose to express their lack of concern on electronic voting machines - the ones without a paper trail. She also might have noticed that the undervote rate is roughly the same in the congressional and judicial races on the ballot, suggesting the possibility that entire ballots may have been blank rather than just the presidential selections. How do we know these machines did not lose entire ballots, as paperless voting machines have been shown to do in other elections?

Yeah, those folks skipped voting. But what about phantom voters? They make sure their votes are counted....

As for phantom votes, the Secretary of State maintains they are simply "not possible." Much as I would like to agree with her, the canvass report suggests that there do seem to be phantoms residing in New Mexico - in almost half the counties. In fact, 228 phantoms seem to be in Dona Ana County precinct 106 where 107 absentee ballots somehow recorded 325 presidential votes. Bernalillo County Precinct 558, 141 phantoms voted early, while in Precinct 14, 114 phantoms waited until Election Day. In all there are 2,087 phantom votes in this state where the margin of victory, according to the same canvass report where all these phantom votes are hiding, was 5,988. If these phantom votes were ignored what else was ignored?

In the past, out-going elections director Denise Lamb has blamed these phantom votes on "administrative lapses." Lapses indeed. In a report submitted to the Secretary of State the day before certification, an independent auditor noted well over 500 errors in the 100 precincts that he was asked to examine, adding that these errors had been corrected during the process of the audit. There are 1,332 other precincts in the state and if they had the same error rate of 5 per precinct, we may have as many as 6,500 uncorrected errors that were not even identified, much less corrected before Governor Richardson certified this election.