SOS Sidesteps Law, Seeks to Begin Voter Purge ASAP
By Mel Fabrikant Wednesday, January 30, 2013, 07:17 AM EST
After promising that last year's initiative to send voter purge cards to 177,000 voters was not actually a voter purge, Secretary of State Dianna Duran quietly announced on Friday that she had changed her mind, reinterpreted the law, and would now investigate and seek to purge voters.
In August, after Secretary of State Dianna Duran created a list of 177,000 New Mexico voters and sent them misleading postcards making it seem like they were being purged from the voter roll, the Secretary insisted that she was not conducting a voter purge. She asserted that she was not conducting a purge because, under federal law, she is not allowed to remove anyone from the voter file until 2015. Voters cried fould after dozens of eligible voters received the cards questioning their elibility.
ProgressNow New Mexico has obtained a letter sent by Duran on Friday informing county clerks that the Secretary of State has decided not to wait until 2015 and will now use the lists of potentially ineligible voters compiled by county boards of registrars to cancel or remove individual voter registrations “by either court action or pursuant to the requirements of the NVRA [National Voter Registration Act].”
ProgressNow New Mexico has posted the letter online here.
Duran points out that a 2011 state law which brought New Mexico's process for purging inactive voters into compliance with federal law required local boards of registrars to meet and review lists of potentially ineligible voters provided to them by her office. But, she also notes that the boards could not purge voters through the process state law outlines (through county clerks) because the Secretary of State has not yet completed the federally-mandated process.
Instead, she informed the boards that she would intiatite her own investigation into any voters they send up to her, turning the new legal process on its head.
Though the law provides Duran with no authority to conduct investigations, she insists that she will do so. Her previous investigations into voters resulted in her claiming to have found 64,000 illegal voters. She later revised that number down to two, each of whom self-reported. She also “investigated” a violation of the election code by her friend Governor Martinez and found nothing wrong even though the county clerk referring the matter to her insisted an impropriety existed.
Duran's new purge plan ignores provisions outlined in federal NVRA law for purging voters through public boards of registrations. Instead, Duran says she will seek to have voters purged through state court.
"Dianna Duran can't wait to purge voters," says Pat Davis of ProgressNow New Mexico Education. "Instead of letting the new statutory process she championed in 2011 play out, she has created her own extra-judicial process that turns the system on its head. Every voter should be concerned that the secretary will conduct some secret investigation into their registration, without ever notifying the voter, then seek to terminate their right to vote. She tried it for 64,000 New Mexicans before; now, here she comes again."