Misplaced ballots may lead to changes

Posted at: 12/04/2012 5:58 PM
Updated at: 12/04/2012 6:15 PM
By: Jill Galus, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie-Toulouse Oliver is considering changes to the absentee ballot counting process, days after KOB Eyewitness 4 broke the story about dozens of unopened ballots found.

Tens of thousands of absentee ballots in Bernalillo County are counted by hand, something Toulouse-Oliver took into account Tuesday, for how so many ballots may have gotten misplaced during this past November's election.

"There are some loopholes in the process," Toulouse-Oliver said.  "There's some areas that need improvement."

This was made evident to Toulouse-Oliver last Friday, when she got a call while out of the country that inside the election warehouse were 125 unopened absentee ballots.

The absentee precinct board is responsible for overseeing the counting process, all done by hand during the election, Toulouse-Oliver said.

"During the absentee process this year, there were literally 50 or 60 eyes on the process at all times, and yet, even with all of that transparency and all of those folks keeping an eye on the process, there was still room for error," she said.

Toulouse-Oliver could not recall a single election where ballots fell through the cracks, until now.

If the process is changed to an automated system doing the counting, there is still possible room for error, she said, adding; at the end of the day, it is about ensuring voter confidence and upholding accountability.

"The blessing is that, we had the opportunity to find these ballots and count them, and get them added into the totals so that those voters voices could be heard," Toulouse-Oliver said.

All 125 unopened ballots were counted Saturday. None of the tight races were affected by the votes.