‘Invalid votes have been cast,’ states report from Secretary of State Dianna Duran to lawmakers
You can read the secretary of state’s report here.
A report the secretary of state sent to lawmakers Thursday claims that her office has found 105 registered voters who may not be U.S. citizens, and 19 of them have cast ballots in New Mexico elections.
That is on top of the two foreign nationals who recently came into Duran’s office to self-report that they were illegally registered to vote.
That’s fewer than the 117 potential non-citizen registrants – including 37 voters – that Secretary of State Dianna Duran claimed during a legislative hearing in March to have identified. Duran’s office is referring information about the 105 registrants who may be foreign nationals to the attorney general.
The report is a culmination of months of review by the Secretary of State’s Office of the records of the state’s 1.1 million registered voters, though the report states that efforts to ensure the integrity of the voter file are ongoing.
Duran’s office has identified “thousands of discrepancies, or potential opportunities for voting irregularity and fraud,” the report states. That includes 2,608 voting records that use a Social Security number that’s assigned to two individuals, and six instances where the same Social Security number is assigned to three individuals. It also includes 641 dead people who are still on the voter rolls – an issue Duran’s office has already revealed publicly.
The report takes a critical tone about anyone who would play down what it states is a significant problem in New Mexico:
“To those who say that vote fraud (if it does exist) is ‘insignificant,’ our answer is that no instance of vote fraud, or ineligible registration, or ineligible voting, is now, or ever will be ‘insignificant’ to this office. Every single vote case by an ineligible voter cancels and invalidates a vote cast by a legal voter, and leaves that law-abiding citizen completely disenfranchised.”
No supporting documentation
The report includes no supporting documentation to back up its claims. NMPolitics.net has been trying, with little success, to obtain such documentation ever since Duran made the claim in March that her office had matched 117 voter registrations to people in the MVD foreign national database and had evidence of 37 foreign nationals illegally voting in elections.
Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver told NMPolitics.net on Thursday that she has also been seeking that documentation since March, and said Duran finally told her this week that she will share it. Until that happens, Toulouse Oliver said it’s difficult to know what to make of the secretary of state’s report.
“It’s impossible to comment on something that you don’t have any information about,” Toulouse Oliver said.
Santa Fe County Elections Director Denise Lamb said she noted, during her cursory reading of the report, that there was “unwarranted criticism” of Toulouse Oliver for not doing more with suspicious voter registration forms submitted by third-party agents. According to the report, Toulouse Oliver forwarded 1,300 voter registration forms to the U.S. attorney, state attorney general, and Bernalillo County district attorney in 2008 because she suspected fraud or other problems with them.
Duran’s report frequently mentions that her office is “unaware of any attempt by the clerk” to go further by reviewing other registration forms submitted by third-party agents.
“She referred them to the U.S. attorney and AG, and more than that, no clerk can do,” Lamb said of Toulouse Oliver. “It isn’t as if we have subpoena power.”
The report also states that in 2010 Toulouse Oliver’s office processed more than 100 voter registration applications that lacked a valid Social Security number even though such a number is required.
Toulouse Oliver told NMPolitics.net that her office’s policy is to set aside forms without valid Social Security numbers and try to contact the potential registrants to obtain that information – not to process the forms without a Social Security number. She said she requested a list of names Duran’s office claims to have found so she can look into the situation, but has not yet received it.
“I have no doubt that there are problems in the voter file. As clerks, we know there are,” Toulouse Oliver said. “I’ve told (Duran) I’m a 100 percent willing participant in this process and I want to help.”
“But I feel a little like I’ve been under investigation rather than helping with an investigation,” she said.
About those 105 registered voters
Duran doesn’t allege in the report that she has identified intentional voter fraud, even with the 19 potential non-citizens who have voted. But she does point out instances of voter fraud in New Mexico’s history, including the 2009 conviction of a former Sunland Park judge for fraudulently voting and registering as a candidate for judge.
It’s possible that some potential foreign nationals Duran’s office has identified as registered voters “may have been misled into believing that they were eligible to vote, and may have lacked the intent to violate the law,” Duran’s report states.
“No one can be sure of the intent of these individuals absent the kind of thorough investigation the SOS is currently not staffed to conduct, nor may be authorized to pursue,” the report states. “It is also possible that non-citizens may have been victims of the same type of identity theft as qualified voters, where a voter registration form was filled out in their names and someone else voted by impersonation.”
“However,” the report states, “it does not change the fact that invalid votes have been cast.”
The report breaks down information about the 105 registered voters being referred to the attorney general. They include:
- Nine people who registered to vote before using foreign-national documents to obtain a driver’s license and who have voted in New Mexico elections.
- Ten people who registered to vote after using foreign national credentials to obtain a driver’s license. The report states that it’s possible – but not certain – that these people had obtained citizenship by the time they registered to vote. These 10 also have voted in New Mexico elections, the report states.
- Forty-nine people who registered to vote after using foreign-national documentation to obtain a driver’s license and who have not voted in New Mexico elections.
- Thirty-five people who registered to vote before using foreign documentation to obtain a driver’s license. The report says there’s also no voting history in New Mexico for these people.
- Two whose voter registration applications came at the same time that they submitted foreign-national documentation to obtain driver’s licenses. The report says there’s also no voting history in New Mexico for these people.
More to come?
The report states that there could be more to come, saying the secretary of state’s review “in no way indicates that these are the only possible non-citizens, let along the only ineligible voters, contained in the statewide voter file.”
“Scrutiny of the statewide voter file is, and will continue to be an ongoing process,” the report states.