Assessing Electoral Performance in New Mexico Using an Ecosystem

Lonna Rae Atkeson
University of New Mexico
R. Michael Alvarez

Election administration in New Mexico has been closely scrutinized since the close 2000 presidential election, which was decided by a mere 316 votes. In that election, questions arose about the adequacy of New Mexico’s voting systems and the efficiency of the election administration process.1 In 2002 the passage of the Help America Vote Act sent federal resources to state agencies to purchase new equipment. In New Mexico some of this money was passed on to county clerks, many of who purchased new electronic voting equipment. The 2002 election produced concerns about the voting machines used in the state, as for example problems with the new touch screen voting machines led to a loss of nearly 13,000 ballots that were “recovered” by representatives of the vendor after taking the voting memory card to their out‐of‐state corporate offices.2 Thus, new equipment alone did not allay all concerns about the state of election administration in New Mexico and indeed may have created more concerns due to a lack of a paper trail. In the 2004 general election the stakes were again high, as again New Mexico was a battleground state in the presidential contest. The 2004 results also showed a high percentage of undervotes in the presidential race, higher than any other state in the nation at 2.5 percent of all ballots

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