Bernalillo County Clerk disagrees with state over drop box requirement
In order to increase voting access, a new state rule requires each county to provide one secured ballot drop box for every 25,000 voters with a minimum of two. The Bernalillo County Clerk disagrees with the Secretary of State’s Office about what that means.
Bernalillo County Clerk Linda Stover said the county has met the state’s requirement for the upcoming local election.
“I talked to my legal counsel about this when these drop boxes came about,” she said. “He told me I was only required to have two. I will only have two.”
However, Mandy Vigil, Elections Director with the Secretary of State’s Office, said while all counties must have at least two drop boxes, the minimum for each is based on the voter population formula of one for every 25,000. That would require Bernalillo – the state’s most populous county – to have 17 boxes based on the most recent voter registration data.
Vigil said with only two, “they are not meeting the minimum as required in our administrative rule.”
Stover said she disagrees with Vigil’s interpretation of the policy and that her county is already in compliance in terms of the number of drop boxes they provide.
While the minimum is in reference to permanent secure containers, Stover emphasized that Bernalillo County provides temporary ballot drop boxes within each of its 72 Election Day polling locations.
“For our population, that is plenty,” said Stover.
Stover does agree the county is out of compliance in another way: the two drop boxes remain unsecured. The Secretary of State’s office requires that permanent ballot drop boxes are locked, bolted to the ground, equipped with tamper-evident seals and monitored by security cameras. Stover said a state vendor contracted to secure the boxes is responsible for the county being out of compliance with that policy.
Vigil said her office will work with counties to come into compliance by next year’s primary election.
This story is part of our Your New Mexico Government project, a collaboration between KUNM Radio and New Mexico PBS. Support for public media provided by the Thornburg Foundation.