Losing the minorities

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Over at The American Prospect, Kate Sheppard writes about black and latino voters, or, as we call em ’round here, Missed GOP Opportunities:

What should really worry Republicans is that the number of eligible minority voters is growing. More than 16 million Latinos will be eligible to vote in 2004, a 20 percent increase from 2000, according to the Pew Research Center. And while only 47 percent of eligible Latino voters went to the polls in 2004, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, voter registration drives by organizations like the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials and galvanizing issues like immigration, are expected to increase those figures. Growth in African American eligible voters isn’t as rapid, but it is still increasing faster than the number of eligible voters in the general population, and the number of African American voters who turned out on Election Day increased from 57 percent in 2000 to 60 percent in 2004.

By 2050, the Census Bureau projects that the U.S. population will be 23 percent Latino and 16 percent black. If the Republicans want to win, they’ll have to start talking to these voters sometime soon.

Of course, they could just keep skipping all the debates being held by minority groups. Fine by me.

Hip Hop Voter Project

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Having seen first hand just how hard it is to register young voters, I empathize with Julia Goldberg regarding the Hip Hop Voter Project.

She’s got more on her blog, but definitely check out the video.

UPDATE — 4:04 pm: I should add that I found the experience very rewarding. It’s hard to get young people interested in what’s happening in the political world, though I think MySpace and blogs are helping to reverse that trend. The social involvement that comes from participating online (even if only through MySpace) is a huge draw for younger voters, and the Hip Hop Voter Project is taking a similar approach through music.

Even limited success in such efforts can have a lasting impact, as those swayed into action (or, perhaps, swayed out of inaction) pass along what they’ve learned to their peers. I don’t want readers to think that registering people to vote was a chore or wasn’t worth the effort: quite the contrary, even when my involvement was primarily in the background. But I did want to convey that it takes a lot of time and energy to participate in such a program, much less organize it. So, kudos to Julia.

Madrid throws in the towl

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Heath Haussamen has the goods:

Democrat Patricia Madrid conceded the 1st Congressional District race to Republican Heather Wilson this morning.

However, according to the Albuquerque Journal, the state Democratic Party might ask for a partial recount.

Madrid, according to the newspaper, decided against a recount because she did not believe it would change the outcome. Party Chair John Wertheim said he may ask for a hand tally of 2 percent of ballots to test the accuracy of the machines that count votes under the new paper ballot system.

Madrid, 60, leaves office as the state’s attorney general at the end of the year, but there is speculation that she could make a run for U.S. Senate in 2008 or governor in 2010.

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.

Afternoon Update

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It looks like there are still several thousand (3,700?) votes remaining to be counted in the CD-1 race between Heather Wilson and Patricia Madrid. As I write this, Wilson maintains a 1,000-vote lead over Madrid. We may be waiting until the end of the week for a final canvas.

Nationally, it looks like Jim Webb will eek out a 7,000 lead in Virginia, which is a huge number of votes to overcome should Allen seek a recount. Some conservatives are now calling on George Allen to call it quits.

Off to a community-relations meeting at Western New Mexico University, but I’ll have the latest in a few hours.