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New Mexico Telegram » Elections, Featured, Local News » Sen. Lopez says Duran’s mailers on voter registration are illegal

Sen. Lopez says Duran’s mailers on voter registration are illegal

Senate Rules Committee chair Linda Lopez, D-Albuquerque, says that mailers related to voter registration sent out by Secretary of State Dianna Duran are not permissible under state law.

This is the latest in a long line of battles between Duran, the first Republican Secretary of State in many decades, and Democratic members of the legislature.

These include Duran’s decision to do away with straight-ticket voting, something that many think helped down-ballot Democrats in recent years.

Lopez made her declaration on the mailers in a statement sent to the press on Wednesday.

Lopez singled out the part of the mailer that said, ‘YOU MAY BE REQUIRED TO CONFIRM YOUR CURRENT ADDRESS AT THE POLLS ON ELECTION DAY IF THIS CARD IS NOT RETURNED.’

The Albuquerque Democrat says there is “no authorization in law” for this and that it “will create confusion among the electorate.”

“Federal and State election law is very comprehensive and extremely detailed, largely because of historical actions that have disenfranchised whole segments of our voting population,” Lopez said.”With this action, the Secretary of State is opening the door to a time when politicians-of-the-day concocted schemes aimed at subverting the foundation of our democracy: the people’s right to vote.”

In announcing the mailers last week (pdf), Duran said, “We are working hard to clean up the file and bring New Mexico into compliance with federal law.”

The federal law that Duran is referring to is the National Voter Registration Act.

The section of the ACt that is relevant is section 8.

Written by

Matthew Reichbach has blogged about New Mexico politics since 2006. Matthew was a co-founder of New Mexico FBIHOP with his brother and part of the original hirings at the groundbreaking website the New Mexico Independent. Matthew has covered events such as the Democratic National Convention and Netroots Nation. In addition to politics, Matthew is an avid sports fan, especially of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and TV fan.

Filed under: Elections, Featured, Local News · Tags: , ,

4 Responses to "Sen. Lopez says Duran’s mailers on voter registration are illegal"

  1. Michelle Meaders says:

    I don’t know — the section of the ACA linked to says stuff like this several times:

    “If the card is not returned, affirmation or confirmation of the registrant’s address may be required before the registrant is permitted to vote in a Federal election during the period beginning on the date of the notice and ending on the day after the date of the second general election for Federal office that occurs after the date of the notice, and if the registrant does not vote in an election during that period the registrant’s name will be removed from the list of eligible voters.”

    “Sec. 1973gg-6 Requirements with respect to administration of voter registration
    (c) Voter removal programs”

    It also says the voter can affirm or change their address before election day if they wish.

    What does Daniel Ivey-Soto say about this? He seems to be the resident expert on election law.

  2. Charlie Bennett says:

    Members of Voter Action in NM, self included, did the following in 2005. All we need now is another plaintiff and a few funding events and we can get this going. Who has received Duran’s postcards? We need those names and postmarked postcards. Please circulate this request so that any prospective plaintiff may contact VoterAction.org. We must do more than whine about this on FB.

    Lopategui v. Vigil-Giron

    In January 2005, a group of New Mexico voters filed a lawsuit in New Mexico state court seeking to halt the continued use of electronic voting machines in elections in the state on the grounds that it violated the plaintiffs’ fundamental right to vote. The lawsuit, which named the New Mexico Secretary of State as a defendant, followed evidence emerging from the 2004 presidential recount in New Mexico that revealed the unreliability of DRE voting systems for the proper counting and recording of votes.

    Status of Case
    In January 2006, New Mexico District Court Judge Eugenio Mathis denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss the case and ruled that the case could move forward to trial. The plaintiffs then negotiated a temporary settlement and worked with New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson to propose an overhaul to the state’s voting systems. In February 2006, Governor Richardson introduced legislation to make New Mexico an all optically-scanned paper ballot state, thereby effectively banning the use of DRE voting systems. The New Mexico legislature subsequently adopted the proposed legislation, and election results from November 2006 showed that New Mexico’s undervote rate had dramatically decreased.
    John W. Boyd of Freedman Boyd Daniels Hollander & Goldberg P.A., David P. Garcia of Montoya, Murphy & Garcia, and Lowell Finley of Law Offices of Lowell Finley served as counsel for the plaintiffs in this case. The lawsuit was filed with the support of Voter Action.

  3. Michelle Meaders says:

    Leaving aside the timing of the mailing, and who it went to (apparently anyone who had voter mail come back since 2005, or filed a postal change of address form since then):

    I think it hinges on the interpretation of “affirmation or confirmation of the registrant’s address”. New Mexico voter law doesn’t allow voters to be removed just because they don’t live where they’re registered. A NM voter registration form has two address fields, labeled “Where do you live”, and “Where do you get your mail?”

    Here’s how it should work: If the Sec of State’s designee says something like, “we sent you voter mail that came back. Do you still get your mail at xyz?” and the voter says yes or no, with no paperwork required. Wouldn’t that meet both federal and state law?

    Yes, it will probably scare and discourage some voters, which may be by design, but it would be hard to say it’s illegal. If I’m mistaken, please correct me.

  4. Erin Muffoletto says:

    I would like to point out that it was Senator Linda Lopez who was the sponsor of senate bill 403 that agreed on the timing of this mailer to go out. Also, Attorney General Gary King and the Department of Justice agreed on the language of the mailer. This language has been used since the first mailer went out in New Mexico when Stephanie Gonzales was Secretary of State.

    To better explain the mailers and purge process, in the words of Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver:
    The only way voters can be “purged” from the voter file via the National Voter Registration Act-permitted process is if they have moved, a mail piece is returned undeliverable, a properly-executed forwardable confirmation mailing is sent to them (such as the one SOS Duran just sent out), they do not respond to it, and THEN they proceed not to vote in 2 federal election cycles. The voters included in this current mailing would therefore not be eligible to be purged until 2015. So, that’s one thing.

    Secondly, the only way these folks could then be purged is if the county board of registration agrees the proposed candidates for removal were identified properly and then authorizes the county clerks to remove them. There is no other process.

    I realize the media have characterized this as a “purge” the Secretary of State is doing, but really, it is just a confirmation mailing, and the SOS has no independent power (neither do clerks) to remove voters in this way.

    I should also mention that there are two things the SOS is being criticized for for this current mailing: 1) that perhaps she did NOT follow the process properly, that individuals were included in the mailing who should not have been. I understand from the SOS the criteria they used and it seems to follow the proper process, however, not having been personally involved in that process I can’t say with any direct knowledge whether that is, in fact, what happened.

    2) The other critique is the wording that was used on the mailing. One bullet point seems to suggest that if the card is not returned then the voter will be purged, which as discussed below, is not true if the voter also continues to vote. The other wording that is flat-out wrong is the wording that states that a voter “may be required to confirm their current address” at the polls. That is nowhere in state or federal law. As this group knows, it’s the registered address that is required to be confirmed if a voter does not provide documentary ID of some form.