According to an email sent by New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver to county clerks, she is relying on an expected spread of COVID-19 to push through partisan election changes in the upcoming special session of the Legislature starting on June 18th.
In the email obtained by the New Mexico House Republicans, Toulouse Oliver writes, “I (and others) have been working closely with the Governor and her staff to ensure that she will place election matters on the call for the special session.”
“I know we all felt hamstrung by the current Election Code during the Primary and, given those limitations (and the likely budgetary implications) heading into the fall when we may have a resurgence of the virus, I think she understands that we as election administrators need more flexibility to manage the election effectively this fall,” continued Toulouse Oliver.
Toulouse Oliver also said the bill she is working with Democrat Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto on to push for election changes, will closely reflect an April letter signed by her and multiple county clerks urging for an all mail-in primary election, with the option for voters to hand-deliver their absentee ballots and the in-person voting options for those with physical disabilities, with COVID-19 as the reason.
According to the latest numbers, COVID-19 has been on a downward decline nationwide, with New Mexico’s cases increasing by over 50%.
The New Mexico House Republicans blasted Toulouse Oliver for utilizing the health pandemic to force through an all mail-in election, writing, “If you thought [New Mexico Democrats] would pass up an opportunity to hyper-politicize our budget instead of focusing solely on solving the economic crisis CREATED by the forced shutdown, YOU’D BE MISTAKEN.”
The New Mexico Supreme Court in a unanimous decision rejected Toulouse Oliver and Ivey-Soto’s partisan petition to have an all mail-in primary election, citing the lack of statutory law to allow such a measure.
Now, during the Governor’s special session to fix her irresponsible budgeting in the 2020 Legislative Session, she and Ivey-Soto will likely claim changing the Election Code is a budgetary issue, hoping to sneak in all mail-in elections that way, with the hopes of a new COVID-19 resurgence in the Fall.
Although legislators will be meeting for the special session in Santa Fe, the Capitol will be closed to the public, and no in-person testimony on the critical measures will be allowed. A bipartisan group of legislators is currently petitioning the New Mexico Supreme Court to allow in-person testimony.