Aug 10 / Erin Ferns Lee

Another Battleground State Plans Questionable Voter Roll Cleanup

Kicking masses of voters off the rolls before the November election appears to be a troubling trend in battleground states. Yesterday, the ACLU and LULAC called out Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz for “abusing his power in a plot to disenfranchise Latinos and other voters” and the Justice Department has demanded more information on Florida’s highly erroneous effort to purge “potential noncitizens” from voter rolls. Now, New Mexico’s efforts to question the eligibility of 15 percent of the state’s registered voters is causing controversy.

Earlier this month, Secretary of State Dianna Duran sent 177,768 postcards to alleged “inactive” voters, including longtime voter and voting rights advocate Diane Wood (who works with New Mexico Common Cause).

“I’m just shocked that I took my job to fight for other peoples’ right to get their vote counted and now I’m having to fight for my own,” said Wood. “And I don’t know why Secretary Duran is doing this to people, trying to take our vote away.”

According to Progress Now New Mexico, “The secretary of state’s voter purge began just weeks after Secretary Duran stopped printing new voter registration cards, leaving at least six New Mexico counties without registration forms. Now we learn that during that same time Duran was not printing new voter cards she was instead able to print more than 177,000 voter registration cards to target to those she deemed non-voters.”

The nonpartisan group urges New Mexico voters to verify that their status has not been “inaccurately listed as INACTVE by checking the SOS’s own database at https://voterview.state.nm.us/VoterView/RegistrantSearch.do

Duran claims that for voters, the “inactive” brand “doesn’t mean they can’t vote.” She also says that the actual purge won’t take place until 2014. However, the timing “will create confusion among the electorate” before the election, said Sen. Linda Lopez (D-Albuquerque).

Rep. Brian Egolf (D-Santa Fe) also warned that this effort is part of a broader, political plan to pass restrictive voting laws in the guise of preventing rare voter fraud: “You have to look at this in the national context,” he said. “I can see her saying, ‘We had thousands of people who didn’t fill out these postcards, so there must be voter fraud.'”

“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,” said Lopez.

 

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