New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and our Governor Vilsack may both run for President in 2008. Both are now trying to attract attention to themselves. Vilsack has his ten words campaign and Richardson has his paper ballot triumph.
Thursday Governor Richardson will sign a bill booting touchscreen and pushbutton voting machines from New Mexico. All the new voting machines sold since the Florida recount were supposed to reduce the number of overvotes and undervotes—cases where votes don’t get counted because voters mishandled the ballot or overlooked the race. The new equipment warns voters that they skipped races or that they voted for two candidates instead of just one. Voila! No more lost votes.
But New Mexico led the nation in undervotes in 2004 despite their electronic equipment. Paperless machines got the blame. “Eighty-nine precincts had more than 10% undervotes, and all but one of these used pushbutton machines.”
There were also some spectacular cases of phantom voting:
In one precinct in San Juan County 318 voters somehow managed to register 2,161 votes, 2,079 of them to incumbent county clerk Fran Hanhardt and just 82 for her opponent Glojean Todacheene. San Juan County was the first to announce its intention to clear the memory on their voting machines, initially disregarding the legal requirement of notifying all of the political parties involved in the election.
So now New Mexico will dump the suspicious equipment. And Governor Richardson is signing the bill at noon tomorrow. To get maximum attention, the ceremony will be on the web. You can watch it here at noon Iowa time:
Richardson’s grandstanding is needed to compensate for New Mexico’s disgraceful disregard of voters’ objections following the 2004 voting and for the state’s failure to investigate at the time. And it won’t get Richardson many votes in Vilsack’s back yard, but it will be noticed in Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina, where the voting machine story is much hotter than in Iowa. Let’s hope Vilsack tries to catch up with the new Richardson on this issue.