State's chief election official stands to benefit from unlawful new process in re-election bid against Dem Maggie Toulouse Oliver...
By Brad Friedman on 10/28/2014, 6:05am PT  

No doubt this is precisely the sort of thing that Chris Christie, New Jersey's governor, chair of the Republican Governors Association and 2016 Republican Presidential hopeful, was talking about last week when discussing the need for Republicans to be in charge of the "voting mechanisms" in 2016.

New Mexico, certain to be a key swing state once again in the 2016 Presidential election, currently has both a Republican Governor, the popular Susana Martinez, and a Republican Secretary of State, Dianna Duran. Both are up for re-election this year. Duran is in a neck-and-neck race against her Democratic opponent Maggie Toulouse Oliver.

Duran is one of those GOP "voter fraud" fraudsters who likes to pretend there is a massive epidemic of voter fraud that needs correcting via polling place Photo ID restrictions, even though such measures prevent far more legal (largely Democratic-leaning) votes from being cast than fraudulent ones --- and even though she's been able to find next to none since taking office four years ago.

At the same time, Duran appears to be slow-walking thousands of perfectly legal new voter registrations from being processed by the state Motor Vehicle Department (MVD), despite a 2010 court order issued after a settlement with the federal government requiring New Mexico to comply with the 1993 National Voter Registration Act, the so-called "Motor Voter" law.

On Monday, the Santa Fe New Mexican offered this distressing report from Brian Sweeney, a state voter, or, at least, someone who has been trying to be one for months without success...

When I moved to Santa Fe this summer, one of the first things I did was apply for a New Mexico driver's license. At the same time, I registered to vote using a paper form. This week, I learned from the secretary of state's registration information website that my voter registration was never processed. I received no notification of any problems with my registration.

Sweeney goes on to recount that calls to the Secretary of State's office have gone nowhere. His paperwork appears to simply have been "lost", along with his right to vote this year. And he's hardly the only one, as he explains...

A Progress Now investigation found that one-click "Motor Voter" registration at the MVD [Motor Vehicles Division], required by state and federal law, is apparently non-functional. Now that we're past the Oct. 7 registration deadline, anyone who was relying on this system is now unable to vote in the upcoming election.

With electronic and paper registration barriers in place, voter registration has suffered immensely. In New Mexico's most populous county, Bernalillo County, MVD voter registration is down 90 percent in 2014. In the 10 months since its implementation, that means the Motor Voter system has failed to register 2,230 New Mexicans in Bernalillo County alone.

Reports indicate that the secretary of state has been aware of this issue since April, but has done nothing to fix the problem.

So, to recap: MVD is losing paper voter registration forms, violates state and federal law with a non-functional Motor Voter system, is doing so on a scale that will likely affect a significant portion of the electorate, and the person in charge of elections in this state has known about the issue for six months but has not taken action to fix it.

Secretary of State Dianna Duran deserves to be voted out of office in the upcoming election for her blatant dereliction of duty on this issue.

The investigation by Progress Now, a progressive organization, cited by Sweeney is here and its disturbing. It was published last May.

In July of this year, USA Today covered New Mexico's failure to live up to its agreement with the federal government to improve its Motor Voter program, finding, even in 2012, two years after the federal court order to shape up, the state had the fourth worst rate of registration among states registering voters when they sign up for a drivers license. (States like North Dakota which don't require voter registration, or states that allow for same-day registration and voting don't need to participate in the program.) The paper describes the state's current process used to register voters at the MVD, implemented under Duran beginning in January of this year, as being in violation of the law.

New Mexico is not correcting the problem because, apparently, they don't want to. Duran appears far more interested in pretending Photo ID restrictions are needed at the polls, as this scammy and deceptive campaign video from Duran this week makes clear.

Sweeney goes on to charge in his op-ed that "Duran dedicated her term as secretary of state to rooting out 19 cases of alleged illegal voting, representing a 0.0017 percent rate of fraud if all are convicted. Now, having the power to prevent the disenfranchisement of at least a hundred times more voters, she is sitting on her hands."

At the very top of Duran's campaign website she is quoted as saying her "primary objective is to ensure the integrity of the electoral system" and that "the foundation for legitimacy is based on the people's confidence that elections are conducted fairly". She has failed on both counts.

Elections have been disastrous at times, by various measures, for years in New Mexico, even when Democrats were in charge of the "voting mechanisms" --- though not in the way Republicans there have infamously charged.

Duran, elected in 2010, is the state's first Republican Sec. of State since 1928. Her Democratic opponent next week is Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver, who, as the two-term top election official in the state's most populous county, has been actively fighting for voting rights, rather than fighting to keep her constituents from exercising them.

We don't generally make endorsements around here and, should Duran get screwed by the "voting mechanisms" in next week's election, we'll fight as hard for her and her supporters to receive a fair and transparent count as we would for anybody else, from any party. (Latest polling indicates a "virtual tie" in the NM Sec. of State race.) But, if Sweeney and Progress Now and USA Today's descriptions of the problems with compliance with the National Voter Registration Act are even close to accurate, Duran deserves to be run out of office this year for ignoring, and even undermining, one of the central responsibilities of that office. The short time we've spent looking into Duran, her record, and her (fraudulent and misleading) claims about "voter fraud", suggest she has no business being the state's chief election officer.

More well-documented information on Duran, and the sleazy anti-voter crowd she and Gov. Martinez pal around with, can be found in this short report from Progress Now - New Mexico.

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