Sunday, May 28, 2023

Unfounded Fears of Voter Fraud Spur New Resolution in Sandoval County

County will ask NM Legislature to require ID to vote, prohibit drop boxes


Sandoval County Commissioners passed a resolution last month that seeks to change how the state conducts elections.

County commissioners are requesting that the New Mexico Legislature make several changes to current election code to, as the resolution states, “enhance the faith of the public in election outcomes.” The resolution comes on the heels of officials in Sandoval, Otero and Torrance counties delaying certification of the state’s recent primary election results.

The resolution states that there “have been many changes in election laws over the past decade to increase voter participation." It goes on to say that “some of these changes have increased the risk of election fraud,” though it does not cite any examples or offer evidence of election fraud.

The changes proposed in the resolution include requiring voters to show a photo identification to cast a ballot for both in-person and absentee voting.

Other changes include prohibiting the use of ballot drop boxes and an “enhanced chain of custody process” for absentee ballots, according to the resolution approved June 22 during a regular meeting of the Sandoval County Board of Commissioners.

“New Mexico has long struggled to effectively and efficiently remove inactive voters from the voter rolls,” the resolution states and, based on this claim, commissioners are asking the state to use “data-matching software” to purge voter rolls of anyone who has moved or died.

Otero County commissioners approved a nearly identical resolution July 14.

Commissioners there initially refused to certify the results of the state’s June 7 primary election. Board members cited distrust of vote-counting machines manufactured by Dominion Voting Systems, a Denver-based company that has been the target of many of former President Donald Trump’s false claims about fraudulent 2020 election results. Under pressure from the state Supreme Court and the attorney general’s office, the board ultimately voted 2-1 to certify the results.

Often citing unfounded conspiracy theories about voting systems, residents of both Sandoval and Otero counties began voicing concerns about the accuracy of election results after former President Trump lost reelection in 2020.

Sandoval County Manager Wayne Johnson introduced the resolution to the board at the June meeting, stating that the county currently has no “direct say over the application of laws within Sandoval County.”

“This resolution would be part of our legislative package to give to our lobbyists, to give to our legislators and to the governor and secretary of state, to request these changes to current election code,” Johnson told the board.

Commissioner Jay Block, a Republican who voted in favor of the resolution, said he didn’t think the proposals were “extreme in any manner” and instead called the proposed changes “common sense.”

“Voter ID is so simple, people. You need an ID. Everyone favors it. If you don’t favor it there’s really seriously something wrong,” Block said. “It’s just unbelievable.”

Commissioner Kenneth Eichwald, a Democrat who opposed the resolution, said he had concerns about excluding people from voting because they don’t have a current ID or are having trouble obtaining one.

Following a half hour of debate and discussion, the board voted to pass the resolution on a 3-2 vote, with all three Republicans voting yes and the board’s two Democrats voting no.

The next regular session of the New Mexico Legislature is scheduled to begin in January 2023. Legislators are expected to take up a variety of election reforms that stalled in the Democratic-led legislature earlier this year.


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