The effort apparently paid off as registration rolls in the county increased by about 65,000 newly registered voters.
But Sheriff Darren White, who was New Mexico chairman of the Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign, intended to challenge the integrity of some of the names on the voter registration rolls. Mary Herrera, the Bernalillo County clerk, told White that there were about 3,000 or so forms that were either incomplete or incorrectly filled out.
White seized upon the registration forms as evidence that ACORN submitted fraudulent registration forms and held a press conference along with other Republican officials in the county to call attention to the matter.
In testimony before the Senate committee earlier this year, former New Mexico U.S. Attorney David Iglesias said he formed an election fraud task force in September 2004 to probe claims of widespread voter fraud.
In an interview, Iglesias said he fully expected to uncover instances of voter fraud based on numerous stories that appeared in New Mexico media that said minors received voter registration forms and that "a large number" of voter registration forms turned up during the course of a drug raid.
"Due to the high volume of suspected criminal activity, I believed there to be a strong likelihood of uncovering prosecutable cases," Iglesias said. "I also reviewed the hard copy file from the last voter fraud case my office had prosecuted which dated back to 1992.
“My intention was to file prosecutions in order to send a message that voter fraud or election fraud would not be tolerated in the District of New Mexico."
"My announcement of a dedicated task force notwithstanding, the firebrands were still not placated," Iglesias, wrote. "I got an angry e-mail from Mickey Barnett, an attorney, who, like me, had worked on the Bush-Cheney campaign and who berated me for ‘appointing a task force to investigate voter fraud instead of bringing charges against suspects.’"
In his testimony before the Senate committee, Iglesias said the task force received about 108 complaints of alleged voter fraud through a hotline over the course of about eight weeks.
"Most of the complaints made to the hotline were clearly not prosecutable -- citizens would complain of their yard signs being removed from their property and de minimis matters like that," Iglesias testified before the Senate committee.
"Only one case of the over 100 referrals had potential. ACORN had employed a woman to register voters. The evidence showed she registered voters who did not have the legal right to vote. The law, 42 USC 1973 had the maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment and a $5,000 fine.
“After personally reviewing the FBI investigative report and speaking to the agent, the prosecutor I had assigned, Mr. [Rumaldo] Armijo, and conferring with [a Justice Department official] I was of the opinion that the case was not provable. I, therefore, did not authorize a prosecution.
“I have subsequently learned that the State of New Mexico did not file any criminal cases as a result of the" election fraud task force.
Iglesias said that Republican officials in his state were far less interested in election reforms and more intent on suppressing votes.
He recalled that the Justice Department issued a directive to every U.S. Attorney in the country to find and prosecute cases of voter fraud in their states during the height of hotly contested elections in 2002, 2004, and 2006, even though evidence of such abuses was extremely thin or non-existent.