Overseas Ballots In Bernalillo County Mailed By Deadline
Despite a number of hurdles due to legal action and problematic ballot design processes overseen by the Secretary of State's office, Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver announced today that her office successfully mailed ballots to overseas and military voters yesterday, meeting the federal deadline for sending those ballots to voters who had already applied before the deadline.
As a result of litigation instigated by Secretary of State Dianna Duran's refusal to place two county advisory questions on the ballot, the Supreme Court ultimately held that the Secretary did not have the authority to block the questions and was ordered to cooperate with County Clerk Toulouse Oliver and her counterpart, County Clerk Geraldine Salazar in Santa Fe County, to ensure the ballots included both counties' questions. Upon the court's ruling late Friday afternoon, Bernalillo County finally received its first set of ballot proofs from the Secretary of State's office containing the two county questions at approximately 7:30 p.m.
Prior to receiving ballots with the two questions, the clerk's staff had been unable to formally begin the ballot proofing process. After receiving the initial proofs, many errors were identified, resulting in two additional sets of proofs to be sent to Bernalillo County before the proofing process could begin in earnest. The final set of proofs without errors arrived from the Secretary of State's office yesterday at approximately 1:00 p.m.
Due to the urgency in mailing ballots pursuant to the federal deadline on Saturday, the entire county clerk's office staff worked overtime on Friday evening and all day Saturday, costing taxpayers approximately $10,000 in overtime costs.
"I am extremely grateful to my entire staff for the professionalism they exemplified in helping to ensure our overseas and military voters were able to get their ballots on time. Once again, Bernalillo County has been able to meet this critical federal deadline and ensure that these voters are able to participate in our democratic process,” says County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver.
"It was disappointing that we found ourselves in the position of having to scramble and place all hands on deck in order to get this process done. Under normal circumstances, we would have had ample time to ensure the ballots were prepared and ready. However, the unusual actions of the Secretary of State impeded our ability to get our jobs done. I am very pleased we were able to meet this important deadline despite all the obstacles placed in our path along the way."
The County Clerk also took the time to address some disturbing and false allegations made by the Secretary of State in an apparent press release late Friday night:
"It is once again unfortunate that the Secretary of State has chosen to communicate with me and my staff via a press release rather than directly about her directive. Neither me, nor any members of my staff, received such a directive from the Secretary of State, as she suggested in her press statement. I cannot fathom how we will be able to address these types of crucial matters moving forward if we do not receive direct communication from the Secretary of State's office. It is also important to note that The Uniform Overseas Citizen Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) places responsibility for mailing ballots on time squarely on the shoulders of the Secretary of State.”
"Furthermore, it is extremely disappointing that Secretary Duran would resort to outright lies in regard to Bernalillo County's record in mailing military and overseas ballots. During my entire tenure in office, we have never failed to mail those ballots on time. This is a very easy allegation to debunk. In the past, when other New Mexico counties failed to mail the UOCAVA ballots on time (resulting from a delay in the previous Secretary's office), the entire state was placed under a consent decree by the US Justice Department. The Secretary of State and all County Clerks operated under that consent decree during the 2012 General Election. That consent decree was subsequently lifted prior to the 2014 elections and has not been reinstated. Again, this is all a matter of very public record that can easily be researched. I am at a loss to understand the Secretary's motivation in saying something that can so easily be proved false."