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I got an e-mail today about an interesting analysis of the vote in New Mexico for 2004 & 2006.  New laws meant that all precincts had optical scanners & paper ballots in 2006.  In 2004, some precincts did and some didn't.  Some diligent number crunchers have analyzed the numbers.

Turns out that the high undervotes in minority precincts disappear when paper ballots are used, instead of no paper trail electronic machines.  The 2-page pdf this comes from can be found here.


DRE = Direct Record Electronic, i.e. "black box"

Cross posted to ePluribusMedia

A new report, based on official 2004 and 2006 New Mexico election data, shows a dramatic difference in undervotes in Native American and Hispanic precincts, depending on whether they voted on paper ballots or on Direct Record Electronic (DRE - often known as touch screen) voting machines.

Activists in New Mexico have long been concerned about how our elections have run for years.  Thanks to their hard work, the legislature required all precincts to get paper trail ballots in time for the 2006 midterm election.  We've got a ways to go on audits, but this was an important step forward.  At least there's now something an audit can be performed on, and something to be recounted should the need arise.

The 2006 election has been run, and the bar graph above summarizes what was found.  There were much higher rates of undervotes in predominantly minority precincts - especially Native Americans ones.  Native Americans in New Mexico vote overwhelmingly for Democrats.   Most on-reservation precincts cast c. 90% of their votes for Kerry in the 2004 presidential election.  And they had the highest rates of undervotes.

The only precincts analyzed were those with 75% or more of voters of one ethnicity (including the precincts termed Anglo), based on the 2000 US Census.  So ones which were more mixed were left out.  For those interested in number crunching themselves, an Excel spreadsheet of the data has been published, too.

Considering Bush's winning margin was less than 6,000 votes in New Mexico, and that the undervotes were concentrated in heavily Democratic precincts, that probably accounts for the margin of victory right there.

The 2004 Presidential Election
All of this summarizes what I already knew.  Because I worked Precinct 13 of Taos County in detail for the 2004 election.  Precinct 13 is the Taos Pueblo Indian Reservation.  Only a small percentage of the voters are non-Indian.  Greg Palast has written about this precinct - he based what he wrote upon data I provided.

I worked Precinct 13 in detail during the 2004 Presidential election.  Cooperating with the local Democratic party, and other "irregular" grassroots activists, I made a detailed spreadsheet of the precinct.  We did a mailout, and additional work to get phone numbers and addresses current.  

An aside:  Addresses are a problem in this part of the country.  I once lived on a road that had five different names.  You had to keep track of which one to use, depending on whether you were dealing with the phone company, the electric company, cable TV, UPS, FedEx, etc.  We don't get mail delivery to our homes, so it comes to PO Boxes (or area cluster boxes, which the USPS calls NDCBU - or something like that - I can never remember.)  This kind of problem is even more pronounced on-reservation.

I was the Party GOTV poll worker on Election Day.  We knew our spreadsheet of the precinct was the best data available.  We checked off every voter who'd voted early, and then each voter who came into vote through out the day.  At the end of the day 1 out of 7 ballots cast on the "black box" on Election Day showed no vote for President.  However, for the early voters, who voted on optical scan paper ballots, 100% of the ballots showed votes for President.  I raised an alarm about it at the time, and others took it up, and Greg Palast wrote about it in his book, and in this article (Truth Out archives).

Precinct 13 wasn't unique. On Navajo lands, indecision struck on an epidemic scale. They walked in, they didn't vote. In nine precincts in McKinley County, New Mexico, which is 74.7 percent Navajo, fewer than one in ten voters picked a president. Those who voted on paper ballots early or absentee knew who they wanted (Kerry, overwhelmingly), but the machine-counted vote said Indians simply couldn't make up their minds or just plain didn't care.  On average, across the state, the machine printouts say that 7.3 percent - one in twelve voters - in majority Native precincts didn't vote for president. That's three times the percentage of white voters who appeared to abstain. In pueblo after pueblo, on reservation after reservation throughout the United States, the story was the same.
...
So we dropped in on Taos, Precinct 13. The "old" pueblo is old indeed- built 500 to 1,000 years ago. In these adobe dwellings stacked like mud condos, no electricity is allowed nor running water - nor Republicans as far as records show. Richard Archuleta, a massive man with long, gray pigtails and hands as big as flank steaks, is the head of tourism for the pueblo. Richard wasn't buying the indecision theory of the Native non-count. Indians were worried about their Bureau of Indian Affairs grants, their gaming licenses, and working conditions at their other big employer: the U.S. military.

And the story's not much different in Hispanic precincts:

Our team drove an hour across the high desert from the Taos Reservation to Española in Rio Arriba County. According to the official tallies, entire precincts of Mexican-Americans registered few or zero votes for president in the last two elections. Española is where the Los Alamos workers live, not the Ph.D.s in the white lab coats, but the women who clean the hallways and the men who bury the toxins. This was not Bush country, and the people we met with, including the leaders of the get-out-the-vote operations, knew of no Hispanics who insisted on waiting at the polling station to cast their vote for "nobody for President." The huge majority of Mexican- Americans, especially in New Mexico, and a crushing majority of Natives (over 90 percent), vote Democratic.

What if those voters weren't indecisive; what if they punched in a choice and it didn't record? Let's do the arithmetic. As minority voters cast 89 percent of the state's 21,084 blank ballots, that's 18,765 missing minority votes. Given the preferences of other voters in those pueblos and barrios, those 18,765 voters of color should have swamped Bush's 5,988 vote "majority" with Kerry votes. But that would have required those votes be counted.

BTW, for those of you who are fans of Bill Richardson for President, it's worth noting that he was on the wrong side of the New Mexico recount issue.  (You'll have to read Palast's article about that, because I've come to my fair use limit in quoting Palast's story.)  Nobody can explain why our Secretary of State, an Hispanic Democrat, was utterly uninterested in this.  Except perhaps that, as President of the National Association of Secretaries of State, she was seduced by the corporate boys from the electronic voting machine companies.  That's only speculation, but very tempting speculation.

When the 2006 results are compared and contrasted with 2004, it turns out  Native Americans have the lowest undervote rates when there's a paper trail, and the highest when there isn't.  I can't explain why that is, but it's good news that our state has taken an important step forward.  And the numbers geeks have shown that it's made a difference for the better.

Originally posted to Land of Enchantment on Mon Feb 26, 2007 at 05:48 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips (22+ / 0-)

    And three cheers for the hard-working voting reform activists in my state, which had the closest margin (by absolute number of votes) in both 2000 & 2004 Presidential elections.

    •  hi I just re-diaried this (2+ / 0-)

      last night. (didnt see your diary) and am thinking about it alot.
      So here's my question. Does anyone have any reasonable idea why there was such a big undervote on those machines in 2004?

      was there a similar undervote rate in other races, or just for president?

      Has anyone been able to examine the machines? examine the code, or ballot definitions?

      Great that NM has paper now, but "dissapearing " of votes on this level certainly sounds like potential lawsuit material.

      Ironic about the Bush-gore 2000 decision resting on "equal protection" arguments. This sure seems like an equal protection case....

      the really serious consequences will happen ..to our grandchildren.If we do too little, they will get what we deserve.R Strom

      by biscobosco on Wed Feb 28, 2007 at 08:34:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  it's not suprise that fair elections help Dems (9+ / 0-)

    it's been heartening to see voting reform being discussed even after the election, not just here but occasionally in MSM or Capitol Hill.

    -8.63, -3.18 rethugs have blood on their hands.

    by feingoldforVP on Mon Feb 26, 2007 at 06:00:22 PM PST

    •  The Facts Are Amazing and Disturbing (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      peace voter, Land of Enchantment

      I vow to never vote electronically.  Paper, paper, paper.  It pisses me off to no end knowing, and I do mean KNOWING, that some bastards in this country deliberately manipulate and corrupt our great nation's democracy.  It's amazing how Mr. "Christian" President has "won" two elections through corrupt and dishonest election tampering.  He truly is a wolf in sheep's clothing as are his immoral supporters who do his bidding.

  •  Heard an IBM PhD at AAAS (9+ / 0-)

    I wrote a diary about a symposium at AAAS in February. The pros and cons of various forms of technology were discussed by scientists.

    The consensus was that the (30 year old) scantron was the best technology. It is a clean paper ballot. It can be checked on an optical reader. It can be counted quickly by a scantron-like machine. If there's a problem, the same paper can be counted by a totally different machine, and if necessary, a third hand recount can be held.

    This is old technology. It works. The patent is probably expiring so no one makes money

  •  Nice Work, LoE (7+ / 0-)

    Those graphs are telling.  The results fit right in with what common sense would dictate.  Common sense isn't always accurate, but it's usually a good theory from which to start.

    It's heartening to read that you hardworking activists have already brought about some systemic change.  I'll be looking forward to New Mexico's results in 2008.

  •  I wondered about Richardson's response to the (5+ / 0-)

    voting issue and recounts.  I had thought that with a dem gov there would be an opportunity to check out the voting fraud in its entirety.  Turns out that Richardson might as well have been Blackwell.  He blocked recounts and inquiries at every turn.  So tell me, how much did he get in funding from the touch screen companies?

    •  Richardson = Blackwell? (7+ / 0-)

      That's taking it a little far.  Richardson, after all, has a PAC which concentrates on registering Hispanic and Native American voters.  

      But he did drop the ball on the election recounts.  Some people will NEVER forgive him for that.  Others, like me, just end up being less than enthusiastic about him, while recognizing his strengths.  (He is pretty good on international diplomacy, for one obvious example.  His worst day is way better than Condi's best on that score...)

      He wasn't very actively interested in the bills for voting reform either, which were mainly pushed through by grassroots work.  But now that it's passed, he jumps to the front of the line to take credit for it.

      Sigh.

      •  I've read accounts... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cho, CalNM, la urracca

        Here on dKos from frustrated election protection activists who said that they worked hard (without success) to dissuade Richardson and the NM SoS from aquiring software like GEMS and machines from Diebold, ES&S, etc. —  I'd like to see if I can find some of those comments (or diaries).  They were further frustrated when Richardson blocked the Kerry v. Bush recount.  It is interesting to see him claim to be a "leader" in the area of election protection — interesting, but not at all surprising.

        I too am from New Mexico, and am most certainly an Anyone But Richardson kind of Kog.  I've noticed your amazing restraint in that regard.  I on the other hand, felt so completely betrayed by the man who is now Governor, that I often feel compelled to warn folks to look at him very closely before jumping on the band wagon.

        ````
        peace

        •  I reserve my "assertive" criticism... (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Cho, peace voter, CalNM, Dallasdoc, la urracca

          ...for the other side of the aisle.  Most visibly, the anti-Pombo campaign.  Also, I am - for the most part - a fan of understatement.  I am not wild about Richardson, but I think his odds of actually being nominated as being quite small.  So I don't worry too much about it.

        •  three like-minded newmexicans (4+ / 0-)

          I'm not enthusiastic about Richardson, either. Blocking the vote recount, taking credit where not due, persecuting Wen Ho Lee, staged photo ops in the Valle Vidal; etc.

        •  Amen to that, Peace Voter (0+ / 0-)

          and I don't discount the threat of the DLC loving Big Bill Bloozy. His strategy is to hope the big 2/3 knock each other out leaving him an opening with his "great credentials." Any one look up his voting record when he was on the hill? I reckon I'll have to one of these days.

          He has recently shown up after a brief absence looking many pounds thinner  --  liposection anyone? He talks about having tried many diets that just havn't worked but nary a word of what worked this time.

          PELOSI '07 'cause we can't wait until '08

          by samddobermann on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 03:31:24 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  good question (4+ / 0-)

      " So tell me, how much did [Richardson] get in funding from the touch screen companies?"

      — glitterscale

      I'd love to know the answer.

      Soon after Patricia Madrid was elected as NM Attorney General, she removed the State of New Mexico as a plaintiff in a lawsuit which, if successful, would have compelled the EPA to perform an independent assessment of the radioactive dump for plutonium contaminated nuclear weapons waste located near the Carlsbad National Caverns.

      I was dismayed.  I went to the offices of the Secretary of State to review the records which listed her campaign contributors.  Just as I anticipated, I found name after name of contributors who worked for the Department of Energy or for the primary contractor for the radioactive dump or business people who in some way profitted through the project.

      Sad but true.  Until we have public financing of campaigns we'll have the best government that big corrupt money can buy.  We'll have politicians who answer to the special interests instead of looking out for the people they are supposed to serve.

      ````
      peace

  •  Eagle County, Colorado has a diligent (6+ / 0-)

    Democratic county chair who did a calculation spreadsheet on over/under votes for the various ballots. I don't have the final results yet, but preliminary reports show less than 2% in Governor race but over 6% in SOS race. We don't have precincts that can be classified as high minority as you do in NM.

    The point is that the volunteer activists who is diligent in gathering these data and making them known to the public and elected officials and then helping to craft legislation that will make a difference is a treasure! I thank our Dem county chair often for taking this on and not letting up.

    I congratulate you and your NM activists for bringing this forward. Bravo!

  •  It might be worth mentioning... (7+ / 0-)

    ...that relations between Hispanics & Indians in this state have not always been convivial.  And, in fact, Indians were banned from voting by the state until 1948.  There was a court case, involving a WWII Veteran from Isleta Pueblo called Miguel Trujillo.  He took it to federal court, and won a decision which opened the door.  (There's a picture of Trujillo a few screens down on this page.)

    Imagine, surviving the Bataan Death March (as Tony Reyna, an elder at Taos Pueblo, did) and coming home & not being able to vote.  I registered voters at some of the Pueblo feast days summer 2004.  A silver-and-turquoise trader from Santo Domingo Pueblo in the next booth at one of them told me how his uncle had been beaten up for trying to vote at that time.

    What connection might that have to the undervotes?  No way for me to know.

  •  Please give this an "election integrity" tag (4+ / 0-)

    so that it can be tracked from the dKosopedia Voting Rights page.

    Nice diary!

  •  I'd been wondering (4+ / 0-)

    Thanks for the update. I had been wondering if there was any interesting data on the use of paper ballots.

  •  Great diary! And count me as another (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    peace voter, Land of Enchantment

    New Mexican ( when I am not in Old Mexico), who is lukewarm at best about Richardson.

    I also want to take the opportunity to again praise to the skies, Voter Action New Mexico, for fighting HARD for an honest vote, and for paper ballots.

    Their work was beyond awesome.

  •  And there's a paper solution for voter that (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    peace voter, Land of Enchantment

    touchscreen type machines helped. Over the last several years I've heard and read interviews with voters with various disablities or medical conditions where touchscreen machines made it easier for them to vote. In the interviews where the push to stop using touchscreens came up, most of the these people said something along the lines of "taking away electronic voting machines will disenfranchise me"

    Now it can be seen how a machine that can give you audio help with voting, speaking candidates names and your selections, could help people with visual problems. The confirmation of your vote, the ablitity to go back and correct an error, are all helpfull.

    But as many paper trail voting advocates have pointed out, there is a solution. Let the machines print out a filled in scantron style ballot. A voter can visually confirm that the printout is what they wanted before finishing the process.  And you don't need to have all of the voting positions use the machines, if a district is already using scantron then adding a small number of the fancier machines will accomodate people that would be helped by them.  If they wish they could convert to 100% of the electronic stations over time, as funding allows, and still have that paper trail.

    •  Speaking as a poll worker, that's BS. (3+ / 0-)

      It's not an either/or.

      New Mexico, which requires paper ballots, has a touch screen option which produces a paper ballot.  You go through it touch screen, and if you're blind there's a headphone & navigation key option.  When you're done with touch screen, you confirm your choices and print.  Then, that printed ballot is fed into the optical scanner.

      So, you've got your touch screen.  And you've got your paper ballot.  Touch screen with no paper trail does not serve ANYONE better than having a paper trail.

      Last November was my first outing as a poll worker, and we had one or two voters (tops) who opted to use the touch screen in the precinct where I worked.  No more.  That machine sat there gathering dust most of the day.

      It's my experience that most voters requiring assistance vote early/absentee and have someone they trust help them with the ballot.  Even the ones who vote on election day generally bring a helper with them.  But still, the touch screen option that works with a recountable paper ballot is there.  Your objection is irrelevant to the New Mexico voting system.

  •  Good Job (4+ / 0-)

    Excellent diary. It's definitely activists pushing and making the definitive difference in many states regarding election integrity. When we're lucky, we can get the politicos to jump in front of the already in progress parade.

    By the way, The Brad Blog has its reaction to this story and the accompanying reports on its front page. Click for their post.

  •  I added the 'teaching' tag (0+ / 0-)

    and will include this diary in my weekly roundup What have you got to learn? (or teach) which will be up in a couple hours

    If you write more diaries like this, could you add the teaching tag?

    Thanks

    What are you reading? on Friday mornings
    What have you got to learn? (or teach) on Saturdays

    by plf515 on Sat Mar 03, 2007 at 04:23:31 AM PST

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