Friday, August 20, 2004
Kids Find Themselves Registered to Vote in Bernalillo County
By Dan McKay
Journal Staff Writer
Glen Stout was surprised when his son's first voter-registration card arrived in the mail a couple of weeks ago.
After all, his son is only 13.
Rejected N.M. Provisional Ballots Top Estimates
Paper Ballots in Legal Tangle
Uncounted Votes Protected, Bernalillo County Clerk Says
What's more, the Postal Service delivered two more voter cards to Stout's Albuquerque residence for a 15-year-old who lives across the street.
The puzzling cards are an example of the problems election workers are facing this election as they deal with thousands of voter-registration forms that are being filed each week with the Bernalillo County Clerk's Office.
Some 3,000 of the cards have been found to be questionable because they lack signatures, have incorrect addresses or contain other discrepancies, said County Clerk Mary Herrera.
Stout said he believes fraud may be involved.
The Social Security number on the card isn't his son's; the date of birth makes his son appear old enough to vote; and the address is partly incorrect.
"At 13 years of age, (my son) is a registered voter," Stout said. "What concerns me is the voter fraud here."
Herrera said members of her staff have called some of the people whose names appear on suspicious forms. Some have said they didn't register raising the question of who is registering them and why.
Sheriff Darren White has asked the U.S. Attorney's Office to investigate. A spokesman for that office declined to comment.
Herrera, White and Stout say the numerous voter-registration drives going on in New Mexico could be to blame. Critics say some groups pay their workers for each voter they register, giving them incentive to file improper forms.
As for Stout, he said he called to have his son's name removed from voter rolls.
Stout said he believes it would be useful to require proof of identification at the polls, as the Chaves County clerk has said he plans to do for some voters in November.
State election officials say requiring IDs at the polls is illegal except for first-time voters who have registered by mail. Proposals to require identification have failed in the Legislature.
Herrera said the clerk's staff will not allow underage voters on the rolls, but it's difficult to catch people who list false dates of birth.
"I'm glad the father stepped in and stopped this," she said.
Herrera said she has turned over numerous suspicious forms to county and federal law-enforcement authorities.
More than a dozen groups are involved in registration efforts in Bernalillo County, she said.