Lawmakers tackle Rio Rancho Election Day fiasco

Posted at: 03/07/2013 5:51 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Remember Election Day in Rio Rancho?

If you were there, trying to vote, you'll probably never forget it. Long waits in long lines. A shocking lack of voting booths and optical scan tabulators. People giving up and going home. A debacle of democracy.

Legislation that could head off future fiascos like that sailed through the state House of Representatives Thursday afternoon.

The bill requires at least one scanner for each precinct, including ones in multi-precinct voting centers. Each precinct would also have to have at least five booths for voters to mark their ballots.

"We need some more specific language to give guidance to county clerks so we can help prevent those long lines," said the bill's sponsor, Rep. Nate Cote, a Dona Ana County Democrat. "This bill does that for the traditional voting sites."

Rep. Jason Harper, a freshman Republican from Rio Rancho, was elected in that fiasco last November. He spent hours with voters at the poorly equipped voting sites.

"Very early on it was apparent that there was a problem," Harper said. "Lines were wrapping around buildings, going out to parking lots. People were saying from where you're standing it's a two or three hour wait and that just progressed all the way through the evening."

The bill passed on a 68 - 0 vote and now goes to the state Senate, where lawmakers expect it to find a friendly reception and swift action.