State runs dry of English voter registration cards
Posted at: 07/20/2012 6:49 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4
We have a Presidential election coming up, with thousands of people who wan to sign up to vote in New Mexico, however, there's one big problem: We're running out of voter registration cards in counties all across the state.
It started out as a good idea: The state would save taxpayers' money by printing its own voter registration forms instead of hiring a private contractor.
Trouble is they haven't been able to keep up with demand.
New Mexico Vote Matters and other nonprofit get-out-the-vote groups are just flat out of voter registration cards in English. That's because the Bernalillo County Clerk hasn't had any for most of the month. It's the same issue for clerks in Otero, McKinley, Eddy, Lea and Socorro Counties.
"Some of our voter registration agents have actually lost New Mexicans that have been wanting to register and get on the voting rolls," Oriana Sandoval of Vote Matters said. "We don't have the necessary materials and the forms in English for them to sign. People are uncomfortable signing state documents they don't fully understand in Spanish and that's reasonable. If we don't have the basic materials that are required we are doing a disservice to the democratic process."
Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver thought she was ahead of the game by getting her order in early to the Secretary of State's Office, which is in charge of printing the cards.
"We anticipated that early on, " Oliver said. "Early in January we placed a large order. We have periodically received parts of that order, but to be honest we have experienced a shortage here in Bernalillo County. For the last month, we've been basically down to zero."
Ten thousand forms came into Toulouse Oliver's office yesterday - a fraction of what they need.
The Secretary of State's Office says there will be more next month.
In the meantime desperate voters can use the federal registration form, but it's different from the state form in some important ways.
Bottom line: The only way to be sure you're registered is to find a state form, or wait for one.