Updated: Friday, 30 Sep 2011, 9:53 AM MDT
Published : Friday, 30 Sep 2011, 9:51 AM MDT
ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - A group claiming they wanted to help people get out to vote in Tuesday’s city election sent out thousands applications for absentee ballots. Problem is the applications are fakes, and they are causing a huge headache for those voters and the city.
Hundreds of people filled out the fakes and the city clerk is scrambling to fix the error before it's too late.
“We received all kinds of different calls of complaints and confusion,” City Clerk Amy Bailey said.
Voters aren't the only ones confused. Bailey said she had no idea what the absentee applications were about when they started showing up in her mailbox last week.
“There were about four or five applications in there that weren't issued by our office.”
Soon hundreds more showed up, around 700.
“We made the decision to just communicate directly with the voters who were returning them and just let them know that they needed to reapply,” said Bailey.
Now hundreds of people waiting at home for their ballots may have no idea these are fakes.
A Washington, D.C.-based group called the Voter Participation Center sent out the applications to minorities and women.
“They did have the best of intentions, and that their intention was to get out the vote,” said Bailey
The group had meshed an application they found online with the city clerk's address, but the applications aren't legal.
The way it works is a voter has to call the city clerk and request an application for an absentee ballot, and then the clerk has to send it to them through the mail. Once the person sends the application back in and it's approved, the city clerk will then mail them the absentee ballot.
Bailey says the process is already confusing as it is without throwing fake forms into mix.
Bailey's office is now franticly trying to reach everyone who thinks they are going to get an absentee ballot for Tuesday’s election, but they don't have much time left.
“By law we have to issue absentee ballots by (Friday) at 5 p.m.,” said Bailey.
She said the organization may have sent out up to 8,000 of the useless applications to voters.
The city clerk thinks turnout could be higher than usual for a non-mayor election. Mayor Richard J. Berry's combined $50 million bond issue for a sportslex and the new Paseo del Norte-Interstate 25 interchange has stirred up a lot of interest.
Then there's the symbolic vote on the red light cameras. Because of those hot-button issues, the clerk thinks turnout will top the 10 percent seen in a similar municipal election in 2007.