Eminent domain and paper ballots

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The Silver City Daily Press will have stories in today’s edition dealing with two hot-button issues: eminent domain and paper ballot systems.

Earlier this week, I requested a precinct-by-precinct breakdown of the Grant County election returns. When I began to review the numbers yesterday, I noticed something peculiar: the early vote tallies did not come close to the 4,702 early votes reported by the clerk’s office on Monday. In fact, they were off by about 3,000 votes.

I contacted Grant County Clerk Howie Morales, whose staff was already conducting a canvass of the election. After reviewing my data, they determined that the electronic reports generated by their new election returns software were not showing early voting numbers for Silver City.

Several hours later I found myself in the clerk’s office, discussing the problem with Morales and his staff. Using the paper tapes printed by the tabulation machines, they had found that almost 3,300 votes had not been reported on Tuesday. The votes had been recorded by the machines, and were on the paper tapes. The only glitch came in the software system used to report the results on election night.

Morales told me that his staff knew something was fishy with the numbers, and because they were midway through the canvass (they rely on the paper tapes to complete the canvass) they would have found the problem eventually.

I see the situation as a vindication for those who called for a paper trail when voters cast ballots.

The second story, written and researched by Jim Owen, is likely the beginning of our coverage of eminent domain in Grant County. Several property owners are selling their land to the state to make way for a road project, and at least one owner is upset. That’s all I’ll mention here — buy a copy of today’s Silver City Daily Press to read the whole thing.