Voter Suppression in New Mexico
Poll Challenger Group Brings MORE Misinformation to New Mexico
Despite AG’s Warning and Congressional Investigation, Poll Challengers Continue to be Trained in Voter Suppression Tactics
Here we go again. Just 9 days after ProgressNowNM released undercover video of a Republican Party poll challenger guide showing a party official training poll challengers to deny ballots to persons needing assistance and illegally demand ID from some voters, True The Vote — the Republican-aligned poll watchdog group under investigation by the US Congress — released a series of online poll challenger trainings to New Mexico poll challengers with more incorrect information that will likely lead to voter suppression and vigilante poll challenges.
The videos, released online over the weekend to True The Vote email subscribers, were emailed to a ProgressNowNM staffer who signed up for information from True The Vote using his real name.
True The Vote instructs participants to complete eight short video sessions, then contact their local True The Vote leader to be recommended as a poll challenger. Poll challengers are appointed by the major parties.
On October 5, the same day that Congressman Elijah Cummings (MD) announced a congressional investigation into voter suppression tactics by True The Vote, ProgressNowNM also released an audio recording of New Mexico’s True The Vote state leader, David Harris, telling an undercover staffer that he was teaching a Republican-party poll challenger training. Coordination between the non-profit True the Vote and political parties is prohibited under IRS rules.
Two days later, Attorney General Gary King announced his investigation into voter suppression in the New Mexico based on ProgressNowNM’s recordings. His office also put out clarifications on New Mexico’s election laws and warned that “Voter suppression or any type of infringement upon the free elective process is a violation of the Election Code and may be punished criminally.”
ProgressNowNM continues to fact-check the True The Vote training videos. In just the single video on Election Day activity, we identified at least seven instructions in direct violation of New Mexico election law or contrary to New Mexico polling place practice. Each of which could lead to confusion and frustration by voters and unnecessary fighting and challenges among poll workers.
“At this point, no one involved in training poll workers can pretend to accidentally give out misinformation,” says Pat Davis, Executive Director of ProgressNowNM. “They are on notice from everyone from Congress to the attorney general to county clerks that their actions are wrong and disruptive; yet, they continue.”
“I’m no conspiracy theorist, but this looks pretty well planned and organized; the law be damned,” added Davis.
True The Vote: Chapter 6: Poll Activity Training Video
1:40 – Poll challengers are instructed to “check the address on the ID against the address in the poll book or online record… and that they provide a change of address form if the voter claims to have moved since their last registration.” Challengers are also instructed to check that the voter’s new address is within the precinct or ward.
· This is not true in New Mexico. Poll workers cannot demand ID, nor can they check online databases or other sources for voter info rmation. Voters are only required to provide their name and date of birth or address, and poll workers do not provide change of address forms. With the use of voting centers, voters are permitted to vote anywhere in their county and cannot be turned away as long as they are registered anywhere in that county.
2:00 – Poll challengers are instructed to have voters and election workers say a voter’s information out loud.
· Actually, voters in New Mexico may chose to write down their information if they do not want to announce their name and information publicly.
2:30 – Poll challengers are instructed to compare a voter’s signature with the voter signature on the roster or online.
· Poll workers do not have access to a voter’s signature and there is no provision to challenge a voter at the polls based on their signature.
2:37 – True The Vote includes instructions to compare the photo on a voter’s ID to the voter.
· New Mexico does not require photo ID in order to vote.
7:00 – True The Vote instructs that only the poll supervisor can decide if a voter receives a provisional ballot.
· In New Mexico, this is not the case. Instead, all 3 poll officials have to uphold the challenge in order to force a voter to vote by provisional ballot.
8:00 – Poll challengers are told that poll workers must call the election administrator (i.e. county clerks in New Mexico) to cancel the mail/absentee ballot before a voter can receive an in-person ballot.
· This is not true. In New Mexico, the voter can receive a ballot on Election Day in lieu of absentee ballot and the county clerk will reconcile the ballots at the Clerk’s office.
9:20 – True The Vote tells challengers that interpreters or other voter assistants must sign an affidavit before being allowed to assist a voter.
· Not true. The assistant’s name may be noted in the voter roster but no affidavit is required.