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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

ACLU-NM to Investigate Allegations of Voter Fraud by Secretary of State Dianna Duran

SusanaMartinz180x1765 DiannaDuranCrop
Susana Martinez, Dianna Duran

If you're not yet a "card-carrying member of the ACLU," you really should be. Today, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico (ACLU-NM) filed public records requests with the Office of Governor Susana Martinez and the NM Secretary of State seeking all records and correspondence related to Secretary of State Dianna Duran’s announcement yesterday that her office had uncovered possible instances of voter fraud by foreign nationals. Through the requests, the ACLU-NM seeks to ensure the transparency and objectivity of the investigation.

“We want to know the motivations behind this investigation and the validity of any assertions that the New Mexico law allowing drivers licenses for all immigrants contributed to voter fraud,” said ACLU-NM Executive Director Peter Simonson. “We take claims of voter fraud seriously because they undermine voter confidence in our electoral system and tend to discourage participation in elections. We also wish to ensure that any exchange of records in this investigation did not violate voter privacy guarantees that are written into state law.”

In 2008, the ACLU-NM sued the Republican Party of New Mexico and the Bernalillo County Clerk’s Office for illegally releasing confidential voter registration information to the public in an attempt to prove voter fraud. You can read about that here.

Records Requested
The ACLU-NM requested the following information from the Governor’s office:

•       All records pertaining to possible voter fraud and/or any irregularities noted in the master list of registered voters in New Mexico involving foreign nationals, including, but not limited to, any memoranda, correspondence, including email, and/or notes that discuss voter fraud and/or irregularities between the Office of the Governor and the Office of the Secretary of State. 

The ACLU-NM requested the following information from the Secretary of State:

•       All records pertaining to possible voter fraud and/or any irregularities noted in the master list of registered voters in New Mexico involving foreign nationals, including, but not limited to, any memoranda, correspondence, including email, and/or notes that discuss voter fraud and/or irregularities and the Office of the Secretary of State’s search for voter fraud in voter rolls and registrations. 

•       All records that support the Office of the Secretary of State’s allegations of possible voter fraud and/or any irregularities noted in the master list of registered voters in New Mexico involving foreign nationals, including, but not limited to the voter registrations in question. 

•       Any documents that reflect communications between the Office of the Secretary of State and any one at the Governor’s Office related to alleged and/or proven voter fraud involving foreign nationals and/or any irregularities noted in the master list of registered voters in New Mexico.

•       Any documents that reflect communications between the Office of the Secretary of State and the New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division related to alleged and/or proven voter fraud involving foreign nationals and/or any irregularities noted in the master list of registered voters in New Mexico. 

•       Any documents that reflect communication between the Office of the Secretary of State and any federal agency related to alleged and/or proven voter fraud involving foreign nationals and/or any irregularities noted in the master list of registered voters in New Mexico.

•       Any documents that reflect communication between any parties outside of the Office of the Secretary of State—including, but not limited to faculty at the University of New Mexico and representatives of any political party—and the Office of the Secretary of State related to alleged and/or proven voter fraud involving foreign nationals and/or any irregularities noted in the master list of registered voters in New Mexico.

“The public deserves to know how the government is using their voting records and personal information and to what end,” said ACLU-NM Managing Attorney Laura Schauer Ives. “Allegations of voter fraud are serious and should be subject to thorough, non-partisan scrutiny.”

Somos Un Pueblo Unido Responds
Commenting on Dianna Duran's announcement, Marcela Diaz of the immigrant rights group Somos Un Pueblo Unido said the cross check won't help to identify illegal voting because she contends the list being used by the secretary of state's office also includes U.S. citizens who did not use their Social Security numbers when obtaining a license and those residents who have since become naturalized.

"Most people in the immigrant community would not attempt to vote illegally because it would prevent them from one day becoming a legal permanent resident or citizen," Diaz said. "That's not a risk people are willing to take."

A Martinez Obsession
A Tuesday Albuquerque Journal article describes the Martinez plan to give SOS Dianna Duran a list of New Mexico driver’s licenses issued to foreign nationals so they can be cross-checked against the state’s voter registration rolls. And here's a good summary by Tracy Dingmann of Clearly New Mexico of the actions taken by Susana Martinez and her administration to make immigration a wedge issue useful in stirring up New Mexicans -- while ignoring priority issues in the state like job creation. So far, there's been a three-pronged attack:

Weeks into her term, Gov. Martinez issued an executive order that mirrors Arizona’s discriminatory law, instructing state police to collaborate with immigration officials and to question the status of anyone “suspected” of a crime.

Throughout the session, Gov. Martinez targeted licenses for immigrants and forced the legislature to spend hours debating a program that’s made our roads safer since 2003.

Now, she’s on a witch-hunt hoping to show that immigrants are registering to vote and committing voter fraud. This is apparently a high priority for her administration, despite the fact that countless investigations into allegations of voter fraud in New Mexico have 

Wedge Issue Frenzy
Dianna Duran used the bogus issue of "voter fraud" as a way to attract media attention during her campaign for Secretary of State last year. She and her right-wing cronies have long claimed such "fraud" is rampant in an effort to gain support for requiring photo IDs for voting. They obviously see it as a potentially effective way to make it harder for certain low-income, elderly and/or rural voters to get to the polls -- and from voting Democratic. Despite numerous studies and investigations here and around the nation, no evidence has ever been found of significant numbers of people fraudulently voting.

Now Duran, Martinez and their right-wing advisers are clearly seeking to intertwine the issues of voter fraud and driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants into a nice, juicy package of wedge issue hysteria. Two for the price of one. Unsuccessful so far in convincing lawmakers to pass a photo voter ID bill or a repeal of the licenses for foreign nationals, our GOP governor and secretary of state appear to be working in tandem to keep the issues alive so they can score tawdry political points.

Evidence is mounting that Susana Martinez has put politics before people from the minute she took the oath in January -- and that she intends to keep right on doing so. Susana seems to prefer a perpetual negative campaign over responsible governing. New Mexicans and our state's real needs be damned.

March 16, 2011 at 11:22 PM in Civil Liberties, Dianna Duran, Election Reform & Voting, Hispanic Issues, Immigration, NM Legislature 2011, Susana Martinez, Transparency | Permalink

Comments

This of course is why they fired a State's attorney, and why Weh and Rove got so buddy buddy.

If 2 Republican State Attorneys couldn't find fraud why then by heaven the SS will just figure out a way to do so!!

And I wonder about duplicate names as well.....

Oh never mind jobs, they are doing what they were put in to do... obey their masters in Club for Growth and Americans for Prosperity

Posted by: Claudia Anderson | Mar 16, 2011 11:33:53 PM

Their main objective, of course, is to suppress voting. The lower the voter turnout, the better the Republicans do. They are trying to turn our state into another Arizona where the news is dominated by bigotry, fear and wild accusations so that people don't notice how they have no policies to solve any of our problems. This is despicable.

Posted by: Esq. | Mar 17, 2011 1:08:04 AM

If you go over to nmpolitics.org, you see a lot of energy being expended by some people on this. They are absolutely fit to be tied and obsessed with the idea that there could be illegal aliens voting.

Duran's statement about this was predicated on some possible indicators that she said she is "pretty sure" about. Her feeling will be good enough for the people who are already worked up, who will now say, "See!"

What everyone needs to be clear about is that this issue has origins in the Southern Strategy. The entire Republican Party has been elaborating for forty years on Nixon's indulging in a little "nudge, nudge, wink, wink" racism to call out the southern bigots incensed that the Democratic Party supported the right to vote for blacks - not just with lip service, but really tough law enforcement and prosecutions. It wasn't a small change.

The GOP's more racially focused crowd appears to think that what worked in Texas to foment a backlash that helped them surge to power there, should work in New Mexico.

What seems missing in New Mexico is awareness of just how tough a battle voting rights was, and how the right wing itches to roll back minority rights.

Conjuring up border crossing illegals who prey on good citizens like Chupacabra seems to be working.

The effort is to curtail voting right under the disquise of preventing illegals from voting. That is what this is about.

There needs to be a mobilization around public education about why voting rights need to be protected and not rolled back.

It's absolutely sad to see people like Duran fronting for an agenda that would disenfranchise minorities.

Shame on anyone who has sworn to uphold the Constitution who would be eager to do that.

Posted by: Stuart Heady | Mar 17, 2011 9:57:31 AM

As much as I would like to make a really bad comment on Secretary of States picture at he top of this article. I don't believe that is she.Even on her worst day she has never looked that bad.
Dianna Duran was a democrat and got the job in our Otero county clerk's office because a democrat got her the job. She has harped on "voter fraud" for the 21 years I have lived in Otero county. I am glad that the ACLU is looking into this because I feel that Duran's opinion alone would not give me any sort of confidence that what she actually finds will support her accusations. I am not a card carrying member of the ACLU but I think I need to be.

Posted by: Stephanie DuBois | Mar 17, 2011 11:44:12 AM

Actually, I got the photo here after Googling images:

http://www.taoscounty.org/directory.aspx?EID=41

However, I now see that the name is spelled Diana here instead of Dianna, so I'll change the pic! My bad.

Posted by: barb | Mar 17, 2011 12:22:24 PM

Barb, I think this picture is even better of her. LOL

Posted by: Stephanie DuBois | Mar 17, 2011 4:00:39 PM

Oh good!

Posted by: barb | Mar 17, 2011 4:23:22 PM