Attorney General Gary King’s office announced today that it was opening an investigation into voter suppression based on a secretly-recorded video that showed a Republican poll training class being told they can ask for Voter ID — even though this is not allowed by state law.
“I will not tolerate voter suppression efforts by anyone, period,” King said in a statement. “We have received a number of complaints since last Friday that there seems to be a concerted effort afoot to discourage some New Mexicans from exercising their right to vote this November. My office is committed to helping ensure fair elections by working to put an immediate stop to such misinformation and publically [sic] correcting what has already been disseminated.”
The trainer in the video also said that anyone who received a so-called “voter purge” postcard would need to vote with a provisional ballot. And that provisional ballots would only be counted in the case of close races. Neither of these are true.
“We applaud Attorney General King for standing up to protect the integrity of New Mexico’s elections,” Pat Davis, executive director of ProgressNow New Mexico said in a statement. “We also join him in adding to the chorus of New Mexicans who call on Governor Martinez and Secretary of State Duran to repudiate these types of tactics and work for fair elections, especially now that voters have already begun voting.”
It was Davis’ organization that released the hidden video.
The debate over voter fraud versus voter suppression has been a large part of politics for years across the country. New Mexico is no different. Republicans have claimed that voter fraud is a major problem, but have not been able to prove that it occurs in large numbers, let alone systemically. Democrats have said the real scandal is how Republicans are trying to make it hard for eligible voters to cast a vote.
After the video was released, Rep. Steve Pearce was asked for it. Pearce admitted that New Mexico does not have a voter ID law — but said that Republican poll challengers should demand it anyway.
King has already announced that he will run for governor in 2012.