Sec. of State’s “Motor Voter” Failure Catching Up With NM Voters

SANTA FE — A Santa Fe man is the latest person to be affected by errors in the State’s voter registration system that are preventing eligible voters from being able to vote. As ProgressNow NM reported back in May, the “Motor Voter” program overseen by Secretary of State Dianna Duran fails to complete and submit voter registrations begun at MVDs across the state. Eligible voters are supposed to be able to update their voter registrations or complete a new registration when they apply for or renew their licenses. The requirement, known as “motor voter,” is a component of the National Voting Rights Act. However, as Brian Sweeney attests in an opinion piece he penned for the Santa Fe New Mexican this week, New Mexico’s required motor voter system is still not properly completing/submitting the voter registration forms:
When I moved to Santa Fe this summer, one of the first things I did was apply for a New Mexico driver’s license. At the same time, I registered to vote using a paper form.

MVD policy on “illiterates” and Navajo-only speakers generates outcry

Update, Thu. Oct 30 (4:35 pm): MVD clarified it’s policy on non-English speakers and shared the original directive with the public an employees. New Mexico MVD Clarifies Policies on Non-English Speakers 

Late today, New Mexico’s MVD clarified it’s directive to employees engaged in processing applications for licenses and ID cards after part of a directive posted in a Farmington office led employees to believe that non-English, and specifically Navajo, speakers were to be denied assistance with applications for licenses or identification cards.  

While the email summarizing the department’s policies for non-English speakers was poorly worded enough to allow staff in one office to interpret the directive narrowly and to apply the reference to illiterate applicants to all non-English speakers, MVD’s quick action to clarify the rules and policies to the public and staff is the right thing to do.  

We are confident that public attention to the issue will lead to the removal of the misleading directive from the employee area in the Farmington office and lead to better training to ensure that all applicants have access to translators and assistance they need to apply for services, whether applicants are seeking licenses needed to drive or identification cards to access services or voting for those who registered by mail.