SOS: Election funds run short

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Secretary calls for aid

By Roger Snodgrass

Secretary of State Mary Herrera voiced her concerns that legislators were not going to appropriate enough money for her to run elections this year.

She brought the problem up at a Senate Rules Committee hearing Monday, during a discussion of SB 136, a bill to provide approved voting systems for elections in New Mexico.

The secretary and her staff spoke in favor of the bill, but when the subject of money came up, she said the appropriation committee “was not recommending the money we need to run elections.”

She announced that her office was $1.25 million short of funds needed to run the primary and general elections later this year.

After the meeting, Herrera’s office released a letter dated Feb. 5, to David Abbey, executive director of the Legislative Finance Committee, which provides detailed financial analysis on legislation for the elected officials.

The legislature was on course to under-fund this year’s election cycle, she complained.

She compared the situation to the previous election cycle of 2008, when her office was under-funded by $550,000, which she was able to borrow from the Board of Finance.

But then she was under-funded by $1,637,400 in the General Election.

“(A)nd thankfully the governor called a Special Session in which he placed the request on the call and the legislature did appropriate the

balance; however, how would we have financed the election had there not been a Special Session in the fall of 2008?” she wrote to the LFC.

“The budget crunch has hit all aspects of state government,” said a spokesperson for the Secretary of State David Flores. “We’re just going to have to have an election no matter what.”

This year, the shortage will be $467,800 for the primary according to Herrera’s budget requirements and $784,450 for the General Election in November.

The Board of Finance begins each fiscal year with $1.5 million but that is supposed to be for all kinds of financial emergencies, she noted, adding that she could not rely on that source to make up for the $1.25 million she lacked.