By Brad Friedman on 2/25/2008, 5:47pm PT  

Kudos (for a change) to AP for their report today into what happened during the Super Tuesday Democratic Caucus in New Mexico, where thousands of long-time registered Democratic voters were knocked off the rolls, leading to some 17,000 provisional ballots being cast (11% of all votes, up from 4% four years ago.)

What has changed since 2004, just four years ago? For a start, the private, constantly failing voting machine company ES&S has taken over management of the registration rolls. At the same time, Secretary of State Mary Herrera's office seems to be in complete denial of the problem, which could drastically affect the ability of legally registered voters to cast proper ballots in the state come this November, when the race could be as razor-thin in New Mexico as it was in 2004.

The AP report picks up on one of our own, covering the privatization of NM's (and several other states') voting rolls, as filed here just after Election Day, when the mess first began to emerge.

Get a load of just a few of the disturbing details, on the thousands of voters knocked off the rolls and the SoS-in-denial, from the surprisingly good AP coverage by Heather Clark...

In interviews with The Associated Press, several voters and volunteer poll workers pinpointed problems with the voter lists at polling places—and raised the possibility that the trouble may have originated not with the party but with the voter lists Democratic organizers were provided by the Secretary of State's office and county clerks.

In Mora County, for example, where half the voters cast provisional ballots, about 1,000 Democrats were stripped of their party affiliation in the Secretary of State's databank and so were never given to the Democratic Party for the caucus list, County Clerk Charlotte Duran said.

In one Bernalillo County polling place, last names beginning with the letter "A" were missing, said Lynn Jacobs, a volunteer poll worker at the site. In San Miguel County, voters on an entire street did not appear on the list, said Pat Leahan, director of the Las Vegas Peace and Justice Center who observed the caucus. And Caucus Director Beth Adams said caucus workers have noticed the names of some people whose addresses were rural routes or post office boxes were not included on the lists.

The names of state Auditor Hector Balderas and state District Judge William Lang—both longtime Democrats and voters—were omitted from the voter lists that were relied on during the Super Tuesday caucus, the two officials said.

A half dozen poll workers said they saw other longtime Democrats try to vote on Super Tuesday only to find their names were not on the lists.

"I had person after person, who had voted in every election, they hadn't moved in years, and were not on the lists," Jacobs said.

And as to the SoS office-in-shameful-denial:

"If there are any discrepancies, it would have been after it would have been received by the Democratic Party. Let them investigate it. Let's find out what really happened," [Secretary of State Mary Herrera's] spokesman James Flores said.

But Mora County's missing voter names happened before they handed over their lists to the Democrats, Duran said.

Clerks there discovered after the caucus that about 1,000 Democrats and about 100 Republican voters had been stripped of their party affiliation in the databank. So the Democrats' names were never passed to the party to be included in the caucus lists.

Duran said she contacted Election Systems & Software, which contracts with the state to manage the software, but was unable to get a guarantee that the problem would not crop up again.

"They couldn't answer me or they didn't want to," she said.

A spokesman for Election Systems & Software did not immediately return a message to his cell phone Monday.

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