Election official says paper shortage won't impact NM ballots - Albuquerque Journal

Election official says paper shortage won’t impact NM ballots

Poll workers for the Santa Fe County Clerk’s Office sort absentee ballots in this June file photo. A global paper shortage has delayed ballot shipments in some parts of the nation, but a top New Mexico elections official said state vendors have secured enough paper to run the November general election without issue. (Eddie Moore/Journal)

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SANTA FE – A global paper shortage has raised concerns around the nation about whether enough ballots can be printed – and obtained in time – to run this fall’s elections.

But a top New Mexico elections administrator said the paper paucity should not cause problems for state county clerks.

Specifically, Deputy Secretary of State Sharon Pino said the state’s two outside ballot vendors have assured state officials they have a sufficient paper supply to conduct the Nov. 8 general election.

“We are fortunate here in New Mexico,” Pino told the Journal.

The paper shortage is due to a decline in U.S. paper production in recent years and supply chain issues, according to a report from the Bipartisan Policy Center.

The report said paper orders that previously took days or weeks are now taking months to process, while costs have increased by 40% or more in some cases.

Transportation issues have also played a role in the paper shortage, with the American Trucking Association predicting that an existing shortage of truck drivers will worsen over the next decade.

Some voting officials around the country have already reportedly faced lengthy delays in their attempts to secure paper ballots and envelopes in advance of election dates, with part of the problem stemming from the fact ballots are typically printed on high-quality paper.

Since 2006, New Mexico has used a paper ballot system that requires most voters to manually mark ballots and feed them into electronic vote tabulating machines. The system allows elections officials to recount paper ballots in certain cases.

Under state law, county clerks run New Mexico elections, but the state is required to pay all associated costs, including printing ballots and paying poll workers.

Meanwhile, the two vendors currently contracted by the state to provide printed ballots and other materials are Automated Election Services, a Rio Rancho company, and Illinois-based Robis Elections.

Absentee voting is scheduled to begin Oct. 11 around New Mexico, though ballots for some military members stationed overseas will be sent out even earlier.

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