On Thursday, the Secretary of State’s Office will hold a hearing at the Roundhouse on proposed election rule changes to 1.10.15 NMAC regarding voting administration and mail-in ballot verification processes and 1.10.19 NMAC, a “new Secured Containers Rule.”
These changes would directly impact the security of elections in New Mexico, especially with the proposed rule, written to take effect on August 24, 2021, which would flatly strip out section 22.214.171.124, which gives requirements for ballot verification with the last four digits of a social security number, signature matching, and notifications sent to voters of their ballots being rejected, giving the voter the opportunity to “cure” their ballot at their local city clerk’s office.
Some of the portions proposed to be stricken by Secretary Maggie Toulouse Oliver include:
A. Upon receipt of a mailed ballot, the county clerk shall remove the privacy flap to verify that the voter signed the official mailing envelope and to confirm that the last four digits of the social security number provided by the voter matches the information on the voter’s certificate of registration.
B. If either the voter’s signature is missing or the last four digits of the voter’s social security number are not provided or do not match, the county clerk shall reject the mailed ballot and make the appropriate notation in the absentee ballot register and shall transfer the ballot to the special deputy for mailed ballots for delivery to the absent voter election board. Mailed ballots that are rejected must be secured and kept separate from the accepted mailed ballots.
C. If the mailed ballot is rejected, the county clerk shall within one working day send the voter a notice of rejection, in the voter’s preferred language, along with information regarding how the voter may cure the reason for the rejection.
In the 1.10.19 NMAC rule change, Toulouse Oliver proposes the institution of “ballot drop box[es],” which would further weaken New Mexico election regulations by forcing New Mexico’s county clerks, unless granted a waiver, to install “a secured container to return official mailing envelopes” based on “a voting population-based formula determined by the secretary of state.”
Although the rule claims to be “secure” with the addition of “video recordings” at the drop-off locations, it would be unclear who is dropping off what ballot, opening up the process to voter fraud through ballot harvesting (taking other peoples’ ballots to the drop-off location for them, which could be altered or otherwise tampered with). Poll challengers tell the Piñon Post that at least in Bernalillo and Sandoval Counties during the 2020 election, the rule adding video recordings was in place, however, no precincts that they witnessed adhered to the video surveillance mandate.
With the Secretary of State’s proposed striking of 126.96.36.199 NMCA ensuring verification of ballots for signatures and matching social security numbers, the addition of the ballot drop boxes would give free rein for bad actors to defraud New Mexico elections through ballot harvesting and the submission of illegal mail-in ballots.
New Mexicans are encouraged to attend the meeting and speak up against the rule change, which would make New Mexico’s elections even more susceptible to fraud with the lack of ballot verification and the addition of ballot drop boxes, leaving New Mexicans’ votes vulnerable.
Ballot harvesting is already happening in New Mexico, with even New Mexico’s newest member of the state House of Representatives, Pamelya Herndon, admitting to harvesting ballots from senior citizens.
Meeting details are below:
A public hearing will be held on Thursday July 22, from 9:00 am to 11:00 pm, at the State Capitol Building located at 490 Old Santa Fe Trail, Santa Fe, NM 87501 in Room 322. Every effort will be made to ensure that this hearing will be live streamed on the Office’s website. The public hearing allows members of the public an opportunity to submit data, testimony, and arguments in person on the proposed rule changes detailed below. All comments will be recorded by a court reporter.
Before the public hearing, written comments may be sent to Kari Fresquez, Director of Legislative and Executive Affairs, via email at email@example.com, fax (505) 827-8403, or by regular mail at Attn: Kari Fresquez – proposed rule, The Office of the New Mexico Secretary of State, 325 Don Gaspar, Suite 300, Santa Fe, NM 87501. The deadline to receive written comment is 9:00 am on July 22, 2021. All written public comments will be posted on the website throughout the written comment period at: www.sos.state.nm.us.