Commentary: Today the Republican Party of New Mexico and the House and Senate Caucuses filed a lawsuit in the New Mexico Supreme Court to block efforts to hold a statewide mail-in Primary Election. We believe the motion by county clerks to conduct a vote-by-mail (VBM) election bypasses the Legislature and invites statewide fraud. Republicans contend the clerks’ petition violates the New Mexico Constitution and the State’s separation of powers.
We oppose the county clerks’ request because the method offers no ballot security and could lead to voting violations. While everyone understands and appreciates the health and safety concerns during this pandemic, a VBM election provides no vote protection, no ability to control and track ballots or who is voting after ballots are mailed out.
“You cannot monitor votes in such a mail-in ballot election,” said Republican Party of New Mexico Chairman Steve Pearce. “Many states that use this process can scan the ballots for security, but New Mexico doesn’t have the technology. Vote-by-mail is inclusive and you cannot check signatures, whereas you must apply for an absentee ballot, which is tracked and requires identification.”
The clerks are openly violating New Mexico’s separation of powers by asking the High Court to basically create “new law” in the area of elections, something that’s the responsibility of the state legislature.
“Unfortunately there has not been a major effort by the Secretary of State to clean up the voter rolls in some time, and this deceptive effort will lead to voter fraud just as it has in other states,” said House Republican Leader Jim Townsend. “Flawed elections will lead to increased public distrust, and we have enough distrust of government in New Mexico.”
The lawsuit exemplifies these mail-in ballot dangers as manifested in the 2019 Albuquerque Public Schools bond and mill levy election. In that local election, more than 53,000 mail-in ballots out of 121,454 were returned as undeliverable. Those not returned may also have been fraudulently voted.
“This is not a partisan issue, but an election law issue. We cannot have the integrity of New Mexico’s elections tainted or stolen because of lack of security in the mail ballot process,” said Sen. Stu Ingle, Senate Republican Leader. “Such a Court decision could change the face of elections.”
Republican leadership and the Party do support what the law currently allows—mail-in absentee ballots. These would be tracked, monitored, and voters would have to apply and present proper identification. Nearly all Republican legislators and six county clerks support the lawsuit.
The Primary Election is June 2.