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The nonpartisan League of Women Voters of Southern New Mexico supports procedures for free, fair, safe and accessible elections and encourages all citizens to be actively engaged in understanding the existing processes that support election integrity and in working to strengthen them.
What are the procedures that already provide strength and integrity in our county and state? Online registration saves money, streamlines the process for computer-savvy voters and contributes to the accuracy of voter lists in allowing voters to check and change their information at nmvote.org. Same-day voter registration happens at voting locations, where voters may also update address changes. Voter rolls are maintained continuously by the Bureau of Elections through checking obituaries, voter registration records, motor vehicle information, returned mail and Social Security records.
Once voting begins, sample ballots are also available from nmvote.org, so voters may learn about candidates, bonds and amendments before voting. Early voting dates and voter convenience centers give voters more access. Machine tabulators are programed and certified so that voters in the county may vote in any of the voting locations. Absentee ballots do not require the voter to have an excuse and these can be tracked and returned by mail or in person. There are secure drop boxes at the voting locations. The use of paper ballots is a very important part of the voting process. Under federal law, any U.S. citizen has the right to cast a provisional ballot, used when there is a question about the voter’s eligibility. These ballots are held for counting until officials determine if the vote should be accepted or not.
Machine tabulators accurately count ballots and are not connected to the internet. They are tested for function and accuracy before voting begins. Your machine tabulated ballot is safe with the paper ballot available if a recount is needed.
After local election officials examine the results, ballots are routinely reviewed by the Secretary of State’s Office. A post-election audit by a qualified independent auditor is also required, with a transparent and specific process clearly spelled out in State Statutes. The auditor’s reports are found on the Secretary of State’s website and reveal the consistent accuracy of our election administration.
What are some additional ways elections in New Mexico could be reformed and strengthened?
Mailing ballots automatically to all registered voters increases access and participation. The state of Utah provides a good example. All-mail ballots have been used in the state for several years. According to the Salt Lake Tribune for Nov. 24, 2020, 90.1 percent of the state’s registered voters cast a ballot in 2020. While turnout in New Mexico in 2020 was the largest in state history, the rate was only 69.7 percent of registered voters, according to the Sun-News of Jan. 26, 2022.
Using Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) changes how candidates campaign. Campaigns are more issue-focused, cost less and winners are elected with a true majority. Voters have the option to rank candidates or vote in the general manner of selecting only one candidate. For more information go to: https://rcvis.com
To learn about the 2022 candidates in their own words, go to VOTE411.org. The League’s printed guides are found in the Oct. 7, 2022, Las Cruces Bulletin in English and the Camino Real Media in Spanish.
Kathy Brook and Eileen VanWie
League of Women Voters of Southern New Mexico