Duran & Toulouse Oliver square off over right to vote, voter ID

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As a part of their series offering candidates for office equal space in the paper’s opinion pages, the Albuquerque Journal ran competing op-eds from current Republican Secretary of State Dianna Duran and her Democratic opponent, current Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver.

Here are their letters:

Dianna Duran: Office Now Runs With Integrity

It’s an honor to serve as your secretary of state.

Four years ago, I traveled our state speaking passionately about the importance of having an electoral system that New Mexicans can believe in and the need to restore confidence and integrity in this office. Today, I’m just as passionate about fair elections and voting, as well as the record I’ve established.

I’m humbly asking you to endorse what we’ve been able to accomplish and respectfully asking you to allow me to keep building on that so that we do not lose all that we’ve gained.

These are the reasons why. Four years ago, New Mexico was the only state not in compliance with national voter registration laws. The office of Secretary of State had a decade of:

  • Missing or unaccounted-for federal funds.
  • Millions wasted on television ads.
  • Questionable sole-source contracts.
  • Indictments.
  • Canvasses of votes with thousands of errors.
  • Indifference to voter fraud, and numerous other embarrassments.

Today, instead of incompetence and dysfunction, we’ve restored confidence and trust in this office. We’ve:

  • Brought New Mexico back into compliance with the law.
  • Accomplished the first error-free canvass of votes.
  • Taken over the Corporations Bureau and reduced waiting time for business filings from four months to 48 hours – and stopped the practice of having businesses pay $150 for “expedited” service.
  • Obtained indictments and convictions for voter fraud.
  • Established accountability for taxpayer dollars and transparency in contracting and purchasing.
  • Stopped self-promotion – the waste of $2 million to focus attention on this office and promote the secretary’s name.
  • Modernized operations and voting systems, replacing obsolescent equipment.
  • Removed over 1,000 deceased voters’ names from the rolls.
  • Cracked down on unlawful use of commercial mail boxes as proof of residence for voters.

We’re fighting hard to eliminate schemes that would allow unscrupulous out-of-state community organizers to take advantage of New Mexicans by registering fake voters and affecting our elections.

We’ve restored trust and integrity in the office of secretary of state.

Why would we ever want to go back to where we were just four short years ago?

The answer is: We shouldn’t.

My opponent openly campaigns for partisan issues – unrelated to elections administration. I believe a secretary of state should stay away from such partisan campaigns and instead be an even-handed, impartial administrator of elections.

Additionally, we have two very different views about protecting your vote – specifically the important question of Voter ID.

While I respect my opponent’s right to her views, I strongly disagree with her campaign’s assertion that voter fraud is a “myth.” I’ve seen voter fraud, investigated it and obtained indictments and convictions. There’s a significant fraud case going to trial right now that could change the outcome of an election.

Voter fraud isn’t a “myth.”

Here’s the key difference between us on this issue: My opponent insists voter fraud has to be “widespread” to matter. I believe one case of voter fraud disenfranchises every New Mexican.

My office has assisted in two recounts this year that ended in ties. If there was a single stolen vote in either of those races, then it disenfranchised everyone – not just the one voter whose vote was stolen.

Voter fraud isn’t a “myth.” The “myths” are that fraud is not a threat to your vote and that it’s impossible for everyone to have an ID. If we can get this protection passed, I’ll personally see to it that the often-mentioned “97 year-old woman in the nursing home” can get her voter ID.

She deserves to vote. She also deserves to know that no one else can cast her vote but her.


Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver, Right to Vote Will be Protected:

Maggie-Toulouse-OliverI am honored to have served as Bernalillo County clerk since 2007. My focus as clerk has been simple and principled: to make voting easier and more accessible, to protect the right to vote and to ensure the election process is fair, transparent and unbiased.

For many years, county elections were plagued by inefficiencies and obstacles. Too often, we went to bed on election night not knowing outcomes.

As your county clerk I have worked hard to eliminate these systemic problems, and today we are leading the way in administering elections fairly and ensuring that the public gets accurate results on time, every time.

Bernalillo County has rocketed into the forefront of modern election administration nationwide, piloting successful innovations like vote centers on Election Day, the “My Voter Information” online voter tool and the “My Vote Center” app – making it easier and more convenient to vote, as well as saving taxpayers over $1 million per election.

The bipartisan Presidential Commission on Election Administration named those innovations as “best practices” for the nation.

Secretaries of state oversee the election process statewide and are tasked with ensuring that our elections are fair, transparent and accessible. Working together with our county clerks, they are most directly responsible for protecting our right to vote.

That’s why I’m running for secretary of state. Because every New Mexico voter deserves the same things I have worked hard to provide Bernalillo County.

I will build on our progress and work to ensure that every eligible voter has an easy opportunity to register, every registered voter has an accessible way to cast a ballot and that those ballots are counted correctly.

I understand that every county has different needs and will work closely with local officials to ensure that everyone has the right systems and procedures to conduct fair and transparent elections. I will help counties expand access to early voting and work to bring online and same-day voter registration to New Mexico.

Protecting the right to vote also means a zero-tolerance policy with those who would attempt to corrupt election integrity. I have aggressively referred potential cases of misconduct to the FBI as well as other law enforcement agencies without regard for party or politics.

Further, my office has implemented an election-audit program that has become the model for best practices around the state and ensures that votes are counted as cast.

But we must also focus on expanding the voting franchise. I oppose erecting additional hurdles to the ballot box, because if even one eligible citizen is denied the right to vote, that is one too many.

Our election process is too important to politicize, and I will end the partisanship that has plagued this secretary of state’s office. When information is hidden from the public and media to avoid exposure, when rules to ensure the law is followed are scrapped right before election time and when the secretary deliberately inserts herself into partisan elections, it can be easy to lose trust in the process.

New Mexico deserves a secretary of state who will fight to protect every citizen’s right to vote, who will work hard to make it easier for every citizen to cast that vote and will end partisanship and restore fairness to our elections.

This November, let’s choose to take our state forward with secure, modern and accessible elections that guarantee one of our most basic freedoms — the right to vote. I humbly ask for your vote this November 4.

For more information please visit MaggieToulouseOliver.com.