It’s good to review and question election processes and integrity to make sure everything possible is being done to allow all qualified voters to cast a ballot and prevent election fraud.
But complaints should be based on facts, not assumptions or politics, and they should be addressed to the official who can make changes.
Otherwise, the complainants are accomplishing nothing but wasting time and distracting attention from any real problems.
I attended a nearly four-hour presentation the Sandoval County Clerk’s Office gave this month on election processes and security.
One of the take-home messages was that state law, which county clerks must follow, has a lot of detailed security measures aimed at ensuring election integrity.
Nothing on this Earth is foolproof, but it sure wouldn’t be easy to squeeze false votes into New Mexico’s election system.
The complaints aired about the election system are often not focused on the real weaknesses.
Did Russia buy Facebook ads in support of Donald Trump? The bigger question is, are Americans foolish enough to make voting decisions based solely or primarily on social media ads of dubious origins?
If the answer to the second question is yes, we have a much bigger problem that who’s buying Facebook ads for what — the problem of whether America will destroy itself via stupid decisions, with no help from the outside.
The permanent drop-boxes for absentee ballots are a point of concern in some circles.
People could find a way to abuse them, but they’re more secure than the mailboxes everyone has been using to return absentee ballots for ages.
The drop-boxes have constant video surveillance, with obstructing the camera’s view being a crime, and sensors that respond to water, heat from a fire or movement of the access door by alerting clerk’s staff members. Most mailboxes have none of the above.
Plus, no one is forced to put their absentee ballot into a permanent drop-box if they don’t trust that method of delivery.
Any voter can mail the ballot, hand deliver it or have an immediate family member hand deliver it.
People may worry that fraudsters may drop in false absentee ballots. But you can’t just make a copy of a ballot and turn it in.
Each absentee ballot is in two envelopes. The inner envelope must be signed by the registered voter to whom the ballot was issued, and the clerk’s office records who has returned an absentee ballot.
The ballots are separated from the envelopes later, before vote-counting.
The clerk’s office won’t take two absentee ballots from the same person, count ballots without a signature on the inner envelope or take ballots from people who aren’t registered voters.
If we have evidence of people turning in false ballots, the drop-boxes aren’t the problem. We would need to focus on figuring out how the fraudsters are getting ballots and getting them past registration verification.
I haven’t seen any evidence of such a problem in Sandoval County.
More controversy centers around the Dominion brand vote tabulators. The company designed them to be able to connect to the internet to send reports, but only Alaska allows that to be done.
The Sandoval County Clerk’s Office staff says tabulators here are never connected to the internet and have been set up so that they couldn’t connect if someone tried. But if we need to get rid of the Dominion tabulators, the person who can make that happen is the New Mexico Secretary of State.
All tabulators used in elections in New Mexico belong to the Secretary of State, who buys them and issues them to the counties. Under state law, the county clerk and county commission have no say in what voting equipment they have to use.
If voters want new tabulators, they need to lobby the Secretary of State — who is an elected official — to buy new ones and their state legislators to appropriate the money for it.
Complaining to the county is a waste of time.