Saturday, September 06, 2008

Guest Blog: Vote, Baby, Vote ... Are You Registered, Baby?

Rachel N. Rodriguez talks about her experience becoming a voter registrar today

This is a guest blog by Rachel N. Rodriguez of Albuquerque. Also see her previous guest blog about attending Friday's Michelle Obama rally at UNM.

By October 7 at 5 PM, anyone who wants to vote in the presidential election must be registered. That's the deadline -- just one very short month from tomorrow.

If you're wondering how you can help get Obama in the White House (as well as NM Dems in office), show up at the Nob Hill Obama office -- right there on the corner of Carlisle and Central -- at 10:45 AM next Saturday to get yourself "deputized" to register others to vote. It's ridiculously easy, and it's critically important!

I showed up this morning at the training, and by the time the County Clerk's representative showed up -- an hour late due to the fact that the earlier training at another office had 88 people attend! -- the office was overflowing with folks wanting to get deputized. The training was short and simple, and the paperwork easy and quick. A notary signed my paper and used her stamp, and I was done!

Obama Nob Hill campaign office today with people signing up to be voter registrars

Other things we can do to help:

  1. Sign up to vote by mail. This is being pushed hard so we can beat the R's in voting by mail.

  2. Encourage others to vote by mail.

  3. Be part of the "99" program - talk to 99 people between now and the election about Obama (and NM Dems!)

  4. Take an hour or two each week to volunteer at the Obama office -- calling folks on the phone, entering data, going door-to-door.

  5. Call the Obama office at 425-0723 to get linked into the folks working in YOUR neighborhood to help put Obama in the White House.

And, if you are itching to donate stuff and money, they can use it. Phones are especially needed as an important "voter contact tool" -- if you have $125 burning a hole in your pocket, you can go to (or call) the Cricket store on Menaul and purchase a phone for the campaign to use.

Whatever you do, it will make a difference!

Rachel N. Rodriguez
rachelnrodriguez AT

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September 6, 2008 at 11:40 PM in 2008 General Presidential Election, Election Reform & Voting, Guest Blogger, Obama NM Campaign | Permalink | Comments (0)

NM-01: Martin Heinrich Going 100 Miles an Hour

Mary Ellen happened to run into NM-01 Congressional candidate Martin Heinrich today as she was visiting the Obama campaign office at Central and Carlisle and he stopped to fill us in on how his campaign's going with 58 days until the election. As he says, "If we turn out this year we're gonna turn New Mexico Blue -- top to bottom and North to South -- and it's all up to YOU."

Click to visit the Heinrich campaign's Voting Center where you can request a voter registration form, see if you're already registered to vote and get all the info you need on voting. You can vote by mail, you can vote early or you can vote on election day, Tuesday, November 4th.


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September 6, 2008 at 04:17 PM in Election Reform & Voting, NM-01 Congressional Seat 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

(Updated) Thursday: 3 NM Stops for Howard Dean and Register for Change

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Dean for Prez rally, Santa Fe Plaza, June 3, 2003

It's been more than five years now since many of us got more active in politics than we ever dreamed we would. The involvement of many of us dates back to Howard Dean's 2003 presidential campaign. Because The Doctor (Is In) is visiting New Mexico later this week, I thought some of the old Deaniacs out there might enjoy seeing a few photos from that era. If it wasn''t for Howard, much of what we're involved with today would never have become a reality.

I know, you've been bored because there hasn't been much happening of late in New Mexico in the way of political dramas and events. Wait, that was just a bad dream I had last night -- nothing could be farther from the truth.

We've go the exciting campaigns of Barack Obama, Ben Ray Lujan, Martin Heinrich, Harry Teague, Tom Udall and a flock of legislative candidates going full throttle, and the convening of the oddly timed and confusing Special Legislative Session in Santa Fe. There are the controversies being fed by desperate backlash against highly respected nonprofits and progressive candidate victories, and an abundance of events organized by a diverse bunch of groups like the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund and Wellstone Action-- not to mention the countdown to the Democratic National Convention in Denver. Political junkies, activists and this blogger have barely had a chance to take a deep breath. And the pace can only accelerate as we move closer to November 4th.

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Dean walks with supporters to Prez debate at Popejoy, September 2003

So I almost hate to tell you that there are three more fabulous events set for next week in New Mexico. DNC Chair (and grassroots hero) Howard Dean will be visiting Albquerque, Santa Fe and Santo Domingo Pueblo with the DNC's Register for Change Tour bus:

Dean & Register for Change, Thursday, August 21:

Santa Fe, NM: 10:15 AM, Casa Solano Shopping Center Parking Lot, Alameda Street & St Francis

CANCELLED: Santo Domingo Pueblo, NM: 1:00 PM. New location being sought.

Albuquerque, NM: 3:15 PM, Albuquerque Campaign for Change Office Parking Lot, 3523 Central Avenue

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West Side Dean Meetup group and Ken Harper and their Dean Van

Come on down to hear 50-State-Strategy guru Howard Dean's always rousing words -- and if you aren't registered to vote you can do it right there, no sweat. If you have friends or neighbors who need to register, bring them along too. The more folks we get registered, the better chance we have to win all up and down the ticket.

Onward to Denver
Howard and the Register for Change Tour will be heading up to Denver next as Dems pretty much take over the city of Denver to officially nominate Obama and his VP choice at the Convention. We'll be there too, reporting from the Convention Floor, seated with the New Mexico delegation as part of the DNC State Blogger Corps. So we've been spending a lot of time trying to raise money for our expenses (hint, hint), buying better equipment to cover the events and trying to get everything set up so it works right (grrrr). If some of our coverage on the multitude of events happening here this week isn't as comprehensive as usual, you'll know why.

also needs donations, as he'll be heading up to Denver on his own to cover events using The Big Tent as his HQ (we'll be popping in there too). I understand Dave Maass of Swing State of Mind, Peter St. Cyr of What's the Word, David Alire Garcia and Tracy Dingman of the New Mexico Independent and who knows who else will also be in Denver sending back stories, video and photos from lots of different angles.

A multitude of national bloggers will also be on the scene, either inside the Pepsi Center (and Mile High Stadium) or in other places, so your blog reading should be quite an experience starting Saturday or Sunday, when folks are traveling to Colorado. Wish us luck!

Click on photos for larger images. Photos from New Mexico's Dean for America Meetup collection.

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August 17, 2008 at 03:50 PM in 2008 Democratic Convention, 2008 General Presidential Election, Democratic Party, Election Reform & Voting | Permalink | Comments (2)

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Concerned About Election Integrity? Sign Up Here

Many people complain about how elections are run, but too few step up to the plate to help them run smoothly and effectively. If you're concerned about making sure every vote counts, consider signing up to be a poll official.

From the Bernalillo County Clerk's Office:
The Bernalillo County Clerk's Office, Bureau of Elections, is actively recruiting Poll Officials for the General Election to be held on November 4th, 2008. Training classes will be provided, and are mandatory. There will be a selection of training times from which to choose, and each will last approximately 2 to 3 hours. Poll Officials are compensated for their Election Day work as well as Training time. 

The Election Day work schedule is 6:00 AM – 9:00 PM. Please be prepared to attend the entire day. Poll Official Requirements:

  • Must be a Registered Voter in Bernalillo County
  • Must have no Felony Convictions
  • Cannot be a relative of a candidate
  • Cannot be an active Law Enforcement Officer

Poll Official Information:

General Information: 468-1291,

Poll officials are also needed in most other counties. Click for county clerk contact info and get in touch to learn how you can help on election day.

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August 9, 2008 at 12:02 PM in 2008 General Presidential Election, Election Reform & Voting | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

New Mexico Election Reform Coalition Urges Investigation of Missing Ballots

Update: Bravo election reform advocates. According to an article in today's Santa Fe New Mexican, a spokesperson from Attorney General Gary King's office has stated an investigation has been launched into what happened to the missing ballots, although no details were provided.
A coalition of election reform organizations has called for a thorough investigation of the Cibola County incident in which two ballot boxes and 182 paper ballots went mysteriously missing at two precincts following the June 3 primary. In a press release, Verified Voting New Mexico and United Voters of New Mexico insist that the in-depth probe is necessary in order to strengthen voter confidence in the fairness of election outcomes, especially in the run-up to the critical general election in November.

Clemente Sanchez, candidate in the District 30 State Senate race, lost by five votes to incumbent David Ulibarri, who is Cibola County Manager. Sanchez has protested the lack of investigation into the election circumstances, and also the subsequent recount and July 11 certification of results by the State Canvassing Board. The state Attorney General has said the incident is "under review" but has not said that an investigation is underway.   

"We want the appropriate county and state authorities to take full formal action on this under the law," said Robert Stearns, steering committee member of Verified Voting New Mexico. "The election officials in the two precincts told the County Clerk that they don't remember what happened to the missing ballot boxes and ballots. The inquiry should not be left there. This involves New Mexico voters and the integrity of their vote -- the very foundation of American democracy."

Paul Stokes, coordinator of United Voters of New Mexico, said, "The law requires the County Canvassing Board to issue a summons to the Precinct Board if there are missing or defective returns. This and other actions available to the Attorney General must be undertaken to assure, to the maximum extent possible, that the Cibola Senate race was decided correctly."

Founded separately in 2004 and 2005, Verified Voting New Mexico and United Voters of New Mexico form a coalition of organizations and individuals concerned with strengthening the accuracy, accountability and transparency of the election process.

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July 22, 2008 at 09:57 AM in Candidates & Races, Election Reform & Voting | Permalink | Comments (4)

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Care About Fair and Accurate Elections?

Maggie_4If so, you should definitely give a listen to an interview with Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver conducted by Peter St. Cyr. It's posted on his blog, "What's the Word?" Peter is a well-known reporter with KKOB News Radio. His blog permits him to share interviews and other stories in their entirety, expanding on the short sound-bites that are typically aired on the radio.

As I'm sure most of you know, Maggie is running to retain her office after initially being appointed County Clerk in 2007 to replace Mary Herrera, who was elected Secretary of State. She's earned significant and widespread praise for the innovations and organizational prowess she's displayed since taking on the wide-ranging responsibilities of County Clerk in New Mexico's largest county.

St. Cyr's interview with Toulouse Oliver covers a lot of ground, from her experience with a recent audit of the county's electronic tabulator accuracy funded by the Pew Center to what she's doing to make sure the November 4th election runs just right. One of her top priorities is to ensure that an adequate supply of poll workers is well-trained and available to handle the massive turnout expected on election day this Fall:

“I’m going to be out this summer visiting neighborhood associations, and civic organization meetings, all over the place trying to recruit poll workers,” said Toulouse-Oliver. “I’m also meeting with a variety of stakeholder groups to ensure they are getting their people and parties, union organization and other activist groups who care about elections and the outcomes of elections.”

Toulouse-Oliver says if you don’t mind working a long shift you should consider volunteering. Election poll workers are compensated for their time, but need to be patient working with the public. More information about being a poll worker is posted on the Bernalillo County Clerk's website here.

We need to pitch in if we want the incredibly important election this year to run smoothly, with results we can count on. Maggie and her excellent staff are doing all they can to make that happen, but they need our help. Just do it.

Maggie also needs our help to retain her office. She'll face Republican Richard Lloyd Abraham on November 4th. You can sign up volunteer and/or donate at her campaign website.

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July 9, 2008 at 09:53 AM in 2008 Bernalillo County Elections, Election Reform & Voting, Media | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 07, 2008

New NM Dem Voter Registrations More Than Double Those of GOP


The Democratic Party of New Mexico has announced that 51,938 New Mexicans have registered to vote since January of this year, according to the New Mexico Secretary of State. Of those, 27,207 registered as Democrats, while only 12,926 registered as Republicans. So far this year, new Dem voters outnumber new GOP voters by more than two to one. In addition, 11,805 registered as Independents.

In a statement, the DPNM expressed excitement about welcome more and more registered Democrats to the party. They said that the impact of an Obama candidacy, the Udall for Senate campaign's work to mobilize Democrats early on and the excitement around the Teague, Heinrich and Lujan campaigns have energized activism among life-long Democrats, Independents, new voters and even disheartened Republicans looking to this election as an opportunity to bring change to Washington. 

"With more and more Democrats registering to vote, we are confident that this year New Mexico will turn Blue," said Brian S. Colón, DPNM Chair. "Democrats are on the right side of the issues and represent the values of New Mexicans. Not only are we registering more and more voters, but record interest in volunteering has energized all the Democratic campaigns here in the state."

The high voter registration number is just one way to measure the amount of enthusiasm that these campaigns are fostering, and we're not even close to Labor Day. With the Obama campaign continuing to register voters across New Mexico and competitive Congressional races reaching out to new voters all over the state, Dems hope to leave an important mark on New Mexico's political landscape for elections to come.

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July 7, 2008 at 06:17 PM in Democratic Party, Election Reform & Voting | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Paper Ballot Surplus: Much Ado About (Almost) Nothing

Ballot1The Albuquerque Journal seems to be ever-vigilant about certain types of perceived errors or wrongdoing on the part of Dems that can be used for political fodder. Lately, it's been hitting hard on the existence of a surplus of paper ballots for New Mexico's June 3rd primary. Given their continuing front-page coverage of this issue, you'd think it constituted a scandal of epic proportions. The problem is, their reporters don't ask the right questions to get at the facts or the real problems. Many Journal reporters seem to have that habit -- or at least that's how their editorial bosses make them look.

Almost Flawless Election in Bernalillo County
The Journal started out hitting Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver, who just happens to be a Dem running for re-election this Fall against Repub challenger Richard Abraham. By all accounts, Oliver ran one of the most problem-free elections in recent years on June 3rd. She added three more early voting sites, effectively communicated important voting info to the public, operated with maximum transparency and improved poll worker training. The election went off without a major hitch. No long lines. No shortage of ballots. Timely reporting of election results. Everyone who wanted to vote got to do so easily and quickly -- a real success in a county that has experience election problems in the past.

The GOP: Always Whining
The smoothly run election must have irritated GOP operatives who like to whine about fake "voter fraud," despite their accusations being found to be thoroughly without merit, time and time again. This is the bunch who is also up at arms because New Mexico switched to a paper ballot system that replaced dreaded touchscreen and other electronic voting machines proven to be unreliable and hackable. You know, the machines being banned all over the nation because they lack any verifiable way to ensure votes are counted accurately. The GOP hacks consider the switch to paper ballots a step backward, probably because paper ballots provide a permanent record of what goes down on election day.

Whipping Up a "Scandal"
It's common knowledge that the Journal has always been highly amenable to regurgitating GOP talking points. I think the paper ballot oversupply "scandal" is just one more instance of this propensity.

The Journal keeps repeating that it cost $1.3 million for the 1.5 million unused paper ballots that were shredded after June 3rd, and wringing their hands about how much this cost taxpayers. Oh, shame on the Bernalillo County Clerk for following the formula for ballot printing designated by the Secretary of State. This, after the Journal made it a virtual crusade to milk the story of insufficient ballots for February's Dem Party presidential caucus for maximum political gain. Damned if you do and damned if you don't.

First off, the Journal cites a per-ballot price of 93 cents. Based on that, they total up how much extra it cost for the surplus ballot supply. The problem is that everybody (except, apparently, the Journal reporters) knows that printing costs aren't figured like that. The main costs come from the set-up and initial run of the job. As more and more copies are printed, the unit cost actually goes down.

Say the print job costs $150,000 for an initial run of 200,000. A significant portion of that pays for the intial set-up. Each additional copy printed after the 200,000 will cost substantially less because the set-up costs have already been offset. The farther away you get from the initial run, the less the per-copy cost. So there's no way that the surplus ballots cost 93 cents each. They may still have been overpriced, but the figuring is off.

The Journal did have to reveal that similar numbers of surplus ballots were printed in the past. And that many extra ballots have to be printed to serve early voting sites that require 850 different versions of the ballot needed for precincts that might have voters show up. But they still insist that there was extensive "waste" in this primary, and then place the "blame" on officeholders who just happen to be Dems.

Start Investigating the Real Culprits
I wish Journal reporters would target the real culprits making our elections such expensive affairs -- the big, mostly Repub-owned corporations that produce, sell and service modern voting equipment and materials. The way things are run in Bush World pretty much dictates that election officials must go to one or another of these often secretive and monopolistic vendors for what's needed in elections. ES&S, Automated Election Services, Diebold (now Premier Election Solutions) and a few others dominate the business of elections. They sometimes tend to jack up costs and keep everything proprietary so no-one knows what's going on inside the machines.

A handful of corporations literally owns American elections, and they force election officials to buy on their terms and enter into expensive maintenance and other contracts after their systems are purchased. It's a very lucrative racket, especially when you consider how unreliable their equipment and services have often proved to be. The public needs to be informed about these kinds of issues so pressure can be brought to convince government representative to fix the problems pronto.

Having a generous supply of extra ballots is part of the solution, not part of the problem. So is switching to voter verifiable paper ballots, as we've done in New Mexico. We're definitely moving in the right direction with our elections, even if some new problems emerge as we move into the paper ballot era. Let's praise election officials when praise is due, as in the case of the Bernalillo County Clerk.

Concentrate on Informing the Public
Another good idea for local journalists would be to provide more in-depth, quality reporting on local and national politics year-round so that more potential voters are knowledgeable and excited about participating in voting. As it stands, a 30% or so turnout of registered voters is considered excellent in these parts. And don't even begin contemplating the huge numbers of our citizens who aren't even registered.

Don't you wish the Journal would try to do something about improving its political coverage instead of pounding on an election official who's done a knock-out job so far? Less pseudo-scandals and rumor-mongering; more fact-based reporting on issues, candidates and voting, please.

It's fine to investigate the surplus ballot issue and whether it would be workable to have print-on-demand ballots at early voting sites or pursue other improvements. But making this story a front-page "scandal" for days on end is just more politically biased BS in my book. Much ado about (almost) nothing, but rife with the juicy anti-Dem innuendo too many in our local media are so fond of.

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June 12, 2008 at 03:57 PM in 2008 Bernalillo County Elections, Election Reform & Voting, Media | Permalink | Comments (12)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Bernalillo County Clerk Gets EAC Grant for Mock Election

Congratulations to Maggie Toulouse Oliver and all the folks at the Bernalillo County Clerk's office. The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) will award an average of $20,000 each to 10 organizations from nine states that educate secondary school students and their parents about the electoral process through staged national elections. The Bernalillo County Clerk’s Office was awarded $20,091 under the program.

Bernalillo County has more than 620,000 residents in 424 precincts and serves large minority populations consisting of Hispanic/Latin American and Native American citizens. The Bernalillo County Clerk’s Office has titled their program, “Go Vote!,” and they will target senior level students enrolled in four high schools serving largely minority precincts. Their mock election will feature real candidates and ballot issues that will mirror the real ballot and the election process that voters will experience in November. The goal of the program is to have 90% or better of the targeted high school students participate in the mock election program.

The U.S. Election Assistance Commission will also award $750,000 to 27 colleges and nonprofit organizations from 18 states to recruit students to serve as poll workers during the November presidential election. The EAC estimates roughly 8,800 college students will become poll workers as a result of the grants, known as the Help America Vote College Program.

The full list of grant recipients is available on the EAC website.

“These grant programs will help not only recruit more poll workers for November, but also recruit the next generation of poll workers by focusing on recruiting and educating younger Americans about the importance of civic participation on Election Day.”

Through the Help America Vote College Program, the EAC distributes funds to increase the pool of qualified poll workers. The program also seeks to ease poll worker shortages such as those seen in the 2004 election, where 5.8 percent of polling places and 4 percent of precincts reported having too few poll workers, according to the EAC Election Day Survey.

This is the program’s third year — in 2004 and 2006, its grantees brought in more than 5,000 students to serve as poll workers. Poll workers are critical to running smooth elections—they set up and take down polling place materials and equipment, check voters’ registration, and demonstrate how to use voting systems.

In addition to administering the Help America Vote College Program, the EAC also provides information about poll worker requirements in each state, and issues guidebooks and information to local election officials on poll worker recruitment and training.

Getting younger students interested in voting is another goal of the grant programs. The Mock Election Program is designed to instill in younger students an interest in the election process by allowing them to participate in a simulated election with voting equipment, ballots and poll workers.

Winners of both programs were selected through an independent review process that examined each applicant’s level of experience and their management and conceptual approaches for meeting program goals.

The EAC is an independent bipartisan commission created by the Help America Vote Act. The EAC serves as a national clearinghouse and resource of information regarding election administration. It is charged with administering payments to states and developing guidance to meet HAVA requirements, adopting voluntary voting system guidelines, and accrediting voting system test laboratories and certifying voting equipment. It is also charged with developing and maintaining a national mail voter registration form. The four EAC commissioners are Rosemary Rodriguez, chair; Caroline Hunter, vice chair; Gracia Hillman; and Donetta Davidson.

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June 10, 2008 at 06:32 PM in Election Reform & Voting | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

2008 NM Primary: Sample Ballots, Polling Places for June 3rd Election, More

2008See our previous post for information and links for finding your polling place, sample ballot and more. Also check out the links under Voting Info on this blog's left-hand sidebar near the top for voting guides and more. I thought I'd repeat this because I've gotten almost 2000 more than 2100 2300 2985 3525 hits already by the time the counter shifted to another day at midnight GMT time, many of them looking for election info. Yesterday I got 1404 unique visitors and 3265 hits. People are definitely interested in this election.

More stuff:

**New Mexico FBIHOP is from New Mexico voters about their experiences at the polls today. Go share yours after you vote.

**NM-03 Dem candidate Ben Ray Lujan Jr.'s campaign will be live-blogging today about how the voting's going and more at their campaign blog.

**Check the Coming Events calendar on the right-hand sidebar on this page for various election night parties you're welcome to attend, including gatherings hosted by the Democratic Party of New Mexico, Don Wiviott, Ben Ray Lujan, Jr. and Tim Keller.

**Steve Olson and Bryan Barash of Tom Udall's campaign will be live-blogging and webcasting from tonight's Democratic Party of New Mexico election night celebration at the Convention Center in ABQ.

**New Mexico's U.S. Senate and House races are getting heavy attention from the national press and blogs. Take today's Real Clear Politics piece on "Battleground New Mexico," and yesterday's post by the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza reviewing and praising Martin Heinrich's ad, "George Bush Leaves NM Families in the Dust."

June 3, 2008 at 11:07 AM in 2008 Bernalillo County Elections, 2008 Judicial Elections, 2008 NM Senate Race, 2008 NM State Legislature Races, 2008 PRC Election, Election Reform & Voting, NM-01 Congressional Seat 2008, NM-02 Congressional Race 2008, NM-03 Congressional Seat 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)