New Mexico has yet again proven that the feudal system and political corruption is alive and well in the Land of Enchantment. On election night, Republican Yvette Herrell led Democrat Xochitl Torres Small by 1,972 votes and was declared a winner by several news outlets, but then the Dona Ana County Clerk found 8,000 absentee ballots that still needed to be added to the total. By the end of Wednesday, Torres Small had a substantial, 2,700 vote lead over Herrell; therefore making Torres Small the winner, not Herrell.
These absentee votes were not counted on election night because the Dona Ana County Clerk sent home the seven-person absentee voter board appointed to count the ballots because they were overwhelmed, exhausted, and tired due to the high number cast. Therefore by midnight Election Day they had counted only about half.
New Mexico political commentator and writer Joe Monahan, wrote about the incident earlier today.
The new clerk mishandled the absentee count by not hiring enough workers to count and failing to make clear to the state on Election Night the number of absentees that remained to be counted. Then she sent the workers home to get rest and had them come back in the morning.
The county clerk explained sending the volunteers home by stating “that a preliminary tally of the absentee ballots was not possible Tuesday night, because they all must be tabulated and reported as a batch, similar to a polling location.”
But, this contradicts what the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office said,
the “tabulator machine” assigned for absentee votes in Doña Ana County had to include all the ballots rather than a portion or that machine would have to be “recertified” when the remaining ballots were added to the count.
This statement came after the Secretary of State released an earlier news release that 4,000 absentee ballots cast in Doña Ana County still had to be counted and then about 30 minutes later, a second news release was sent revealing that an additional 4,000 absentee ballots had been counted but not yet added to the vote tally.
This all comes after the integrity and competence of the Dona Ana County Clerk’s office has already been in question. Again, as Joe Monahan wrote:
The office is recovering from this year's scandal in which the former clerk was having an affair with another employee and misspending money. The new clerk was only recently appointed by the county commission.
Lastly, he questions, as should every Republican in Dona Ana County, “why were only a handful of volunteers counting thousands of absentee ballots?”
While many election officials around the country run smooth elections that increase public confidence in election results, poor election administration like in the processing of absentee ballots in Dona Ana County may be evidence of fraud or corruption. Even if it’s just incompetence, it still harms public confidence in election results and our election system.