Duran Pleased With Court Order On Voting In Sandoval County
Secretary of State Dianna Duran said she is “extremely pleased” with the federal court order issued Friday, directing the Sandoval County Clerk to ensure that Rio Rancho voters do not face long lines again this November.
The Sandoval County Clerk’s attorneys had admitted last month in US District Court in Albuquerque that “Sandoval County takes full responsibility” for what the court called a “debacle” in Rio Rancho in the 2012 General Election, which saw voters waiting in line more than five hours.
US District Court Judge William P. Johnson acknowledged that fact today by affirming that “Sandoval County had all the equipment it had requested,” and that the blame for what he called a “disaster” was the result of “egregious” errors committed by Sandoval County elections officials. The court also noted that Sandoval County was alone among New Mexico’s 33 counties in being unable to manage its own elections.
“Voting rights are sacred, and no voters, regardless of race, ethnicity, party or geographic location should ever be disenfranchised,” said Duran, “and what happened to Rio Rancho voters in 2012 should never be permitted to happen again. I am extremely pleased the federal court has ordered Sandoval County to do their duty.”
Duran, who as Secretary of State has emphasized electoral integrity, noted “While I am concerned about integrity in the system, and fighting against voter fraud, I am just as concerned about ensuring that every New Mexican gets to vote—and gets to vote very quickly and efficiently.”
Last month, Sandoval County officials finally admitted in open court that they had not planned for enough election equipment or support, and had also failed to ensure that parking and access were adequate for Rio Rancho voters.
A contributing factor in the federal intervention was the evidence submitted that Sandoval County has had a long history of voting rights discrimination against the voters of the City of Rio Rancho. Testimony indicated that Sandoval County had discriminated against Rio Rancho voters in 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2012. “Enough is enough,” said one of the Plaintiff’s attorneys, “Sandoval County elections officials have to fix this.” Testimony showed that as many as 6,000 voters apparently gave up and walked away from the polls in Rio Rancho, possibly affecting the outcome of three local races.