"We were looking for any impact the change to paper ballots may have had on New Mexico’s historically high undervote rate. When we found the dramatic drop in Native American precincts, we were shocked," says New Mexico's Theron Horton. The Election Defense Alliance (EDA) activist added, "something was going on with the DREs in those precincts in 2004."
Details now out from New Mexico reveal that undervote rates dropped precipitously in both Native American and Hispanic areas after the state moved from DRE (Direct Recording Electronic touch-screen) voting systems in 2004 to paper-based optical-scan systems in 2006. In Native American areas, undervote rates plummeted some 85%. In Hispanic communities, the rate dropped by 69% according to the precinct data reviewed by EDA, VotersUnite.org and VoteTrustUSA.org.
Ellen Theisen, then-Executive Director of VotersUnite.org, reviewed the original high undervote rates in the state after the 2004 elections, but hadn't broken it down to compare DRE/touch-screen vs. Op-Scan precincts. "When I heard of Theron’s work," Theisen says in today's press release, "I performed the comparison, and found that it’s the paper ballots that made the difference in the minority precincts.”
New Mexico banned the use of DREs across the state after their disastrous experience with Sequoia touch-screen voting machines during the 2004 Presidential Election. They now require a paper ballot for every vote cast statewide.
As he signed the bill which banned DREs into law in early 2006, New Mexico's Gov. Bill Richardson wrote a letter to Election Officials in all 50 states, warning that while "some believe that computer touch screen machines are the future of electoral systems...the technology simply fails to pass the test of reliability."
"One person, one vote is in jeopardy if we do not act boldly and immediately," Richardson implored, while decrying the failures of DREs in his state and supporting paper ballots. "When a vote is cast, a vote should be counted," he wrote.