For more than a week, voters in Rio Rancho have railed against election officials in Sandoval County claiming long lines for voters in the heavily Republican area were evidence of voter suppression on Election Day. Republican Governor Susana Martinez herself raced to the scene and was among the first to cry foul while insulating fellow-Republican Secretary of State Dianna Duran from blame.
On election night Martinez told KRQE:
"The Secretary of State was able to spend what was necessary to make sure that there were enough machines at every location." (see clip below, at 0:01:39)
But, that's not true and newly uncovered emails show that Martinez knew it.
During tonight's Sandoval County Commission meeting, Chairman Darryl Madalena read from a portion of a September 18, 2012 email from the Director of the Secretary of State's Elections Bureau showing that the Secretary of State asked Governor Martinez and the Board of Finance (she is its president) for $1.4 million in emergency funds to "meet the requests for an increased number [of ballot on demand systems] for the General... Our request was tabled. The Board did not allocate any additional funding to cover the costs of the Election."
Bobbi Shearer, the director, reminded clerks in the email that it is the responsibility of the Secretary of State to provide these ballot machines and acknowledges that more had been requested. Shearer also gives a clearer understanding of the process for ordering voting machines. The budget for the voting center machines was created in September 2011, two full months before county commissions passed resolutions authorizing vote centers, the trigger that permitted clerks to begin determining the number of machines needed. After the 2012 June primary election, it is clear that clerks requested more equipment, prompting a budget crisis for the Secretary of State who had already spent election money on non-election day items like voter purge cards and postage.
The request for additional funding to expand the availability of election equipment in the General election, because of an expected increase in the number of voters in some areas, was denied by the governor's own board of finance less than a month before early voting started. In addition to serving as the board's president, she also appoints all four public members. The Lieutenant Governor and State Treasurer also sit on the board.
In her email to clerks, Shearer blasts Martinez and the rest of the board saying "the Board does not have an adequate understanding of the election process."
This new email shows that not only was the Secretary of State not able to spend what was necessary to ensure that there were enough machines at every location, but Governor Martinez knew it and she and her hand-picked board denied the funds to run a smooth election.
Tea Partiers and Republicans have continually gone after Sandoval County's Democratic clerk for long lines on Election Day but this new email shows exactly who is to blame.
Let's hope the Rio Rancho voters who have so loudly demanded that someone be held accountable will now hold Martinez accountable.