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New voting machines set for Nov. 4 election

SANTA FE – New Mexico voters in the Nov. 4 general election will cast ballots using new voting machines, which have cost the state nearly $12 million over the past two years to purchase and set up.

Secretary of State Dianna Duran’s chief of staff Ken Ortiz said county clerks in all 33 counties have received thorough training on the machines in recent months.

“Our office is confident that there is an adequate plan in place for election night,” Ortiz told the Journal in an email.

A Legislative Finance Committee report released earlier this month raised questions about relying on the machines’ Colorado-based vendor for oversight and troubleshooting.

Among other things, the report found the Secretary of State’s Office had not provided a “risk management” plan – a list of possible problems and ways to avoid them – in connection with the voting machines.

Duran did not directly address the concerns in a response letter to the head of the legislative agency, but said the Secretary of State’s Office has made broad improvements in recent years to its technology and computer systems.

In all, more than 1,700 of the new voting tabulators – there are four different models – have been distributed statewide, with the amount received by each county determined by request levels and type of polling places, Ortiz said.

The new tabulators have been touted as part of an effort to modernize election technology statewide. They have bigger screens than the old machines, which make it easier to gauge whether a ballot has been submitted successfully.

As in previous elections, voters will still fill in paper ballots and feed them into the machine that counts votes cast.

“The voter will not notice a difference, I don’t think,” said Eddy County Clerk Darlene Rosprim, a Democrat.

A handful of counties already used the machines during the June primary election. New machines for the state’s remaining counties were then purchased after state lawmakers approved additional funding.

Daniel Ivey-Soto, executive director of the New Mexico County Clerks Affiliate, said some county clerks are nervous about the timing of the new machines.

“I think the apprehension a lot of clerks have is that this is being rolled out between the primary and general (elections),” said Ivey-Soto, who is also a state senator. He added that new tabulators received largely positive reviews after the primary election.