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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dianna Duran Presentation on Voter Registration Investigation Set for 9AM Friday Before Courts, Corrections and Justice Interim Committee

DuranJDianna-sm New Mexico Secretary of State Dianna Duran is still withholding information related to her "investigation" of 64,000 cases of possible "voter faud" -- claiming "temporary" executive privilege allows her to continue to withhold the release of the information to the public. The investigation, such that it is, involves comparing voter registration rolls with Moter Vehicle Division and Social Security records to find errors that may indicate illegal voter registrations. The State Police have been changed with conducting criminal investigations on any suspicious records that turn up.

As a number of county clerks and others have pointed out, such a list comparison is likely to produce numerous instances of minor differences due to things like voters using slightly different names to register to vote and register their cars, or innocent errors caused by data entry mistakes, etc. Duran, however, has continually suggested that she's dug up proof that there are tens of thousands of illegal registered voters -- and of course she just happens to believe they are probably nasty "illegal aliens" who are abusing the system. Their real aim is to suppress voting, especially by minorities.

Right. Goes right along with Governor Susana Martinez's eternal media campaign using immigration as a wedge issue to rile up voters and give her an opportunity to act tough, like an ex-prosecutor should. Making "voter fraud" accusations has become a jaded tradition within right-wing political circles despite that fact no real evidence of widespread abuse of the registration system has ever been found.

Criticism from Open Government Leader
As reported in the Albuquerque Journal, Duran is getting some blow back on her "temporary" executive privilege claim from a highly respected open government group:

New Mexico Foundation for Open Government executive director Sarah Welsh said Monday that a temporary withholding of information goes against the purpose of executive privilege, which allows officials to withhold records relating to the formulation of public policy within an agency to protect candid assessments from top advisers.

If the exception is meant to protect advisers who need to give honest advice on how to proceed without fear of appearing in the news media, then executive privilege redactions should be permanent, she said.

“The bottom line is that information delayed is information denied,” Welsh said.

Duran has exercised what she claims is executive privilege by redacting, or blacking out, large portions of the correspondence about the investigation released to the Journal as the result of an Inspection of Public Records request. As the Journal article notes, the redactions were extensive, including most of many emails between Duran’s staff and officials of the state Taxation and Revenue Department.

Time to Grill the SOS
Duran is scheduled to appear before the the Interim Courts, Corrections and Justice legislative committee this Friday in Albuquerque to make a presentation on this issue. The meeting will be held at 9:00 AM on July 15, at the Probation Services Office of the Children, Youth and Families Department, located at 1031 Lamberton Place NE. The public is welcome to attend, and can comment during time reserved at the end of the meeting (see agenda).

Let's hope that legislators and the public put the pressure on Duran during the hearing to get some basic questions answered about her dubious investigation. For instance,

  • SOS Duran made a significant push before the House Voters and Elections Committee during this year's legislative session claiming that she had evidence that NM elections have been compromised. She claimed to have evidence of 37 undocumented immigrants voting illegally.  Where does this case stand?  Can she substantiate these claims? Where is the transparency? 
  • Why has the 64,000 turned into a criminal investigation when she claims this is an administrative issue? 
  • Why have the county clerks been excluded from this effort? 
  • Is it an efficient use of state resources for DPS to investigate this case?

Duran keeps making rather wild-eyed claims about uncovering nefarious registration behavior on the part of undocumented immigrants, but has never revealed the supportive documentation she has allegedly uncovered in the course of what often appears to be nothing more than a witch hunt. Lots of buzz-word talk, but few facts to back it all up.

In reference to the Secretary of State’s upcoming testimony, Senator Peter Wirth stated, “The committee is very interested in hearing the legal basis for the Secretary of State’s decision to engage the State Police in election matters and why she believes New Mexico has been violating federal election law.”

It's about time Duran was required to release the information about the investigation that she has no legal right to keep secret, as well as provide truthful answers about how and why the investigation is being conducted. After all, the Martinez administration has touted its dedication to transparency and open government -- so let's see some of that happening in terms of this "voter fraud" debacle.

July 13, 2011 at 02:56 PM in Dianna Duran, Election Reform & Voting, Events, Immigration, NM Legislature 2011, Susana Martinez, Transparency | Permalink


Mostly this is a bunch of REDACTED cooked by REDACTED in order to REDACTED.

This stuff works in a campaign because the object is only to whip people's ire up. If someone wins, then well, that is politics.

But it can't work as government policy. What is exactly and truly real must be precisely the basis for any action on behalf of the responsibility vested in public officials by the taxpayers.

If this is still just a bunch of REDACTED, then it really needs to be exposed for what it is.

Posted by: Stuart Heady | Jul 13, 2011 3:16:52 PM

Good article.

There is no question, of course, that this operation is part of the nationwide campaign by Republican state administrations to disenfranchise classes of voters that tend to vote for Democrats.

Photo voter ID is the technique they wish to justify by the finding of this witch hunt. It has been shown in multiple studies that photo voter ID will disenfranchise far more voters than the few that will be found to vote fraudulently.

Posted by: Paul Stokes | Jul 13, 2011 3:32:47 PM

She is SUCH a blowhard. If she has this sort of "evidence," she is the first and only one, not that others have not tried (and of course, failed).

I wish I could be there for this. You know it is a load of BS when even the ABQ Journal's coterie goes after her.

What an incredible waste of time.

Posted by: bg | Jul 14, 2011 4:57:26 PM

This committee is made up of some very fine people. I hope they will ask the difficult questions that will eventually lead to the truth. Many of the legislators on this committee are attorneys and many although not attorneys have served us in the legislature for many years. My hope is that this investigation by the SOS will not lead us to picture ID's and other ways to make voting more difficult. I believe the legislators should have what is best for all New Mexicans and in the end make voting a simple process and not burdensome.

Posted by: Stephanie DuBois | Jul 14, 2011 9:22:48 PM