The postcards by the Secretary of State’s office that Dianna Duran said are designed to clean the voter rolls of inactive voters and those who have moved are reaching at least some who do not fit either definition. And those who have received them say they are confusing.
The mailers say in bold letters, “Confirmation of Voter Registration” and, “Please detach complete and return this postcard no later than Oct 9, 2012.”
In smaller letters below, the postcard says:
If this card is not returned and you do not vote in any election from the date of this notice through the November, 2014 general election, your name will be removed from the voter registration list.
And the postcards are causing confusion over whether or not the recipients have to reply to the postcards to be eligible to vote.
Voters do not, but one Democratic State Representative whose wife receives the letter says that the mailers are poorly designed and it is unclear to those who receive the postcards what they are for.
Rep. Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, announced that his wife received the postcard on Twitter today.
SoS labels my wife an INACTIVE voter. She’s voted in every state election but didn’t receive/return Duran’s junk mail.Outrageous!
— Brian Egolf (@BrianEgolf) August 9, 2012
In a short phone interview, Egolf said that it was not immediately clear what the postcard was for or that it pertained to the “fundamental right to cast a ballot.” Egolf compared it to mailers from auto insurance companies or junk mail that everyone receives in the mail.
The Santa Fe Democrat said that in political campaigns, it is known that a high percentage of people will not read direct mail sent out, a very small percent will actually read it before it is thrown away and about one percent will actually fill the information out and send it back.
Becuase of this, Egolf says he thinks there is another motivation in play besides cleaning up the voter rolls.
“She is attempting to manufacture evidence for her election fraud crusade,” Egolf told NM Telegram in a short interview. “And there’s other ways that this could have been done, at least in the design of the mail piece.”
Egolf said he was told by the Secretary of State’s office that his wife was on the list because a piece of mail from a governmental agency was returned as undeliverable. Egolf was not told what kind of mail or from what agency.
Earlier, ProgressNow New Mexico found that Diane Wood of Common Cause New Mexico, a New Mexico resident and voting expert, received the postcard from the Secretary of State’s office.
However, when Wood checked her voting status there, she found that her status had been changed to “INACTIVE” in this mail purge alongside a list all of the elections she has voted in since 1992, a total of 44. Wood’s most recent vote was just 88 days before she received the notice sent to alleged non-voters.
“This is exactly what we have all been afraid of when the secretary of state acts unilaterally to terminate the right to vote for voters only she can identify,” says Pat Davis of ProgressNow NM in a statement. “Diane is just the first of the more than 177,000 legal voters to get this notice and it shows the incompetence of the secretary in administering our elections. How many more active voters were included in her massive purge of voters?”
Political consultant Sisto Abeyta also received the mailer and started a Facebook group for others who have received the mailers to post their postcards sent by the Secretary of State’s office.
In all, the Secretary of State’s office sent more than 177,000 post cards. It is unclear how many went to voters who are already active and live at the same residence — that is voters that have a legal right to be on the voter rolls.
Duran’s office did not reply to a request to comment from the Associated Press.
Legality of postcards questioned
Senate Rules Committee chair Linda Lopez, D-Albuquerque, said the mailers were not permissibly by law in a statement on Wednesday. But Lopez wasn’t the first to say the postcards were not following the law.
After Duran announced the postcards, Democratic Party of New Mexico attorney David Thomson called on the SoS to correct her statements on what the postcards can do.
“Despite your representations in the mailing, the recipient’s registration cannot be cancelled until the day after the second general election following the mailing of the notice(N.M.Stat.Ann§1-4-28(E)(1)),” Thomson said in a letter sent to Duran and the media. “This means that even if the voter does not return the card sent by the SOS, the voter may not be purged from the voter roll before the 2012 election.”
Thomson’s full letter is available below.
“If you receive one of these postcards in the mail,” Duran said in her news release announcing the postcard program. “Please fill it out, update your address, and return it promptly. Your address and voting precinct will be corrected and you will remain eligible to vote.”
While this is technically true, it is also misleading. If voters were to vote in this election, or in 2014, they would be considered “active” again. But the mailer does not tell voters this. It could lead to a number of voters believing they are no longer registered to vote — when in fact they are still registered to vote.
The letter from Thomson says that the instructions on the postcard itself are “contrary to law.”
This isn’t the first time Duran has been criticized for handling voting matters. Duran claimed that she thought 64,000 voter registration requests were possible voter fraud. Then that number plummeted when they were investigated. As of yet, no one has been charged in any of the cases.
And several counties ran out of voter registration forms when they were provided with less than they requested.