Recently, University of New Mexico political science professor Lonna Atkeson released her research on the 2008 election in New Mexico.  Atkeson discussed her research, "Assessing Electoral Performance in New Mexico Using an Ecosystem Approach," with UNM Live in the video below.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pmrDBK2bks

The report's key findings from voter and poll worker surveys include:



  • Early voters reported waiting in line much longer than Election Day voters.

  • Voters overwhelmingly perceived their poll workers as very (84%) or somewhat helpful (13%)

  • Voter confidence was very high with 65% of voters surveyed very confident, and another 25% somewhat confident that their vote was counted correctly.  Only about one-in-ten voters (9%) were not too confident (5%) or not at all confident (4%)

  • New Mexico's voters are not consistently identified at the polls correctly. Just under half (49%) of all early voters were procedurally correctly identified at the polls, but this varied by voting mode. A majority of early voters (54%) were identified correctly, while a minority (41%) of Election Day voters was identified correctly. Moreover, Hispanics are more likely to be incorrectly identified than non-Hispanics in Election Day voting. In early voting Hispanics and non-Hispanics were correctly identified equally.

  • Voter attitudes toward voter identification are mixed. About 85% of voters support photo identification laws at the polling locations. However, when voters are forced to choose between ensuring access versus protecting the system against fraud 35% of voters are more concerned about protecting voter access than fraud, while about 36% are more concerned with preventing voter fraud. In addition, 65% of voters agree that New Mexico's voter ID law is just right when it is described to them. Thus, voters are more ambivalent about voter ID then a simple support question might suggest.


Included in the report's key recommendations:

  • The county clerk or secretary of state should develop easy-to-use checklists that will lead poll workers and precinct judges through closing procedures, step-by-step. In training, the poll workers should be walked through how to complete this checklist, preferably in a simulation exercise.

  • Information should be posted at all precincts about provisional voting and what a voter should do before casting a provisional ballot to increase the chances of the provisional vote being counted.

  • Provisional voters should be provided with an explanation sheet that defines their status, the criteria used to qualify the ballot, how the provisional voter will be contacted regarding the final disposition of the ballot, and the fact that a provisional voter may appeal the disqualification of their ballot.

  • County clerks should consider problem-based learning for use in mock elections as a technique for poll worker training.

  • Prior to the poll opening, all poll workers should be required to read the voter identification law to ensure that all workers understand the law and to ensure consistency among poll workers.

  • Sampling of machines for the post election audit should be transparent, including a public notice of the event, and the sampling frame should include only machines actually used to tabulate votes in early, absentee and Election Day voting.

  • Great care should be made to ensure correct ballot combinations to early voters; early voting workers should only handle a single ballot at a time.

  • Educate voters about their rights to a provisional ballot.

  • Educate voters about voter identification laws.

  • State or local election officials should develop training sessions and materials for county chairs of political parties, as well as for appointed challengers and watchers to ensure that all concerned are aware of activities permitted and prohibited for challengers and watchers.


The complete report is available for download here.  For more information about this research project, please contact Lonna Atkeson with the University of New Mexico Department of Political Science.

Media contact: Benson Hendrix, 277-1816, bhendrix@unm.edu