Maybe You Can't Always Recount the Paper

One of the main arguments made by advocates of paper ballots is that you can always recount paper ballot; they have a certain infalibility in some people’s eyes. Well this story from New Mexico may shatter your belief system. Reader discretion is advised!

Ballots from the primary election are missing from two Cibola County voting places, which could create difficulties for an automatic recount expected in a razor-thin state Senate race. The incident also raises questions about New Mexico’s paper ballot voting system that was first put into place in 2006 to try to make voting more secure and restore the public’s confidence in elections.

Cibola County Clerk Eileen Martinez confirmed Friday that the paper ballots were missing from two precincts. But she said there were printed reports from vote tabulators used in the two polling places. The printouts show the election results for each office. The county was able to canvass the results of the June 3 primary using that information. There also are electronic memory cards from the tabulators that store results from the polling places.

Martinez said she hasn’t been able to determine what happened to the ballots. It’s the duty of a presiding judge at a polling place to make certain that marked ballots are locked away and delivered to the county clerk after voting ends on Election Day.

Martinez said the presiding judges in the two precincts, which were in the community of Grants, do not recall what happened to the ballots. “Maybe they just made a mistake or something. I don’t think it’s because they did it … to do anything wrong,” said Martinez.