Common Cause's New Mexico Voting Rights Director Targeted By GOP Voter Purge
Albuquerque - Diane Wood has voted in every New Mexico election since 1971, but this week New Mexico Secretary of State Dianna Duran began the process to terminate her right to vote.
Just 9 days ago, Duran announced that an analysis by her office had identified 177,768 “non-residents and non-voters” (a full 14% of the state’s registered voters) whose voting rights would be terminated after a mailing to those legally registered voters was completed.
Among the first to receive a mailer was none other than Santa Fe resident Diane Wood, the Voting Rights Director for Common Cause New Mexico, a non-profit organization working to ensure fair and accurate elections in the state.
A life-long New Mexican, Wood received a notice in the mail at her Santa Fe home on Tuesday which identified her as one of those non-resident, non-voters. The notice directs Wood to verify her voting status on the “Voter View” section of the Secretary of State’s website. (view Diane's voter history, from the SOS's own database here).
However, when Wood checked her voting status there, she found that her status had been changed to “INACTIVE” in this mail purge alongside a list all of the elections she has voted in since 1992, a total of 44. Wood’s most recent vote was just 88 days before she received the notice sent to alleged non-voters.
Wood moved to her current address more than 5 years ago and has voted absentee from there at least 4 times during elections when she was working in other parts of the state protecting others’ right to vote.
"I'm just shocked that I took my job to fight for other people's right to get their vote counted, and now I'm having to fight for my own," Wood told ProgressNow New Mexico in a recorded interview.
The voter purge began just weeks after Secretary Duran stopped printing new voter registration cards, leaving at least six New Mexico counties without registration forms. Just weeks later, we learn that during that same time Duran was not printing new voter cards she was instead able to print more than 177,000 voter registration cards to target to those she deemed non-voters.
New Mexico has an estimated 250,000 – 600,000 eligible but unregistered voters.
Wood's example shows that Duran's data dive into our voter file identifed exactly the wrong voters than she was intended, and her own data shows it - yet, apparently without conducting quality control checks they moving to terminate the rights of 1-in-7 voters.
"If you receive one of these postcards in the mail," Duran said in her news release announcing the purge, "Please fill it out, update your address, and return it promptly. Your address and voting precinct will be corrected and you will remain eligible to vote."
Wood countered that all of her information is correct and has been in every election in which she has voted since the 1970s.
Listen to Wood in her own words on this video.
ProgressNow New Mexico is calling on the secretary of state to immediately halt her mailing of these notices and purge of voters until she can explain how our state's most dedicated voters were among those targeted as non-residents and non-voters.
We are also urging other lawful voters who have received these notices to contact (505) 750-0018.
About Common Cause New Mexico
Our successful Count Every Vote NM program had seven counties targeted for the 2012 primary, with fifteen targeted for the general election in November, and we are training poll watchers across the state to ensure every vote does count;
We defeated three different bills during the 2012 legislative session that would require photo ID every time you vote in NM, as a full 10% of our most vulnerable citizens do not have access to a photo ID;
New Mexico became the second state in the country to pass memorials in both the State House and State Senate opposing the US Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United, which allows unlimited money to be donated to independent PACS by wealthy individuals, corporations and unions, thus threatening our democracy;
Senator Peter Wirth introduced a bill to require disclosure of donations to the independent PACs, and while we ran out of time during the short 2012 session, the bill passed the State Senate unanimously with bipartisan support, and we are determined to see the bill pass both houses in 2013 and be signed into law by Governor Martinez;
We have asked the Attorney General to investigate ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) in New Mexico for possible violations of the Campaign Reporting Act and the State Gift Act;
Our latest Connecting the Dots report was released this spring, and focused on the role of campaign contributions by companies affected by changing New Mexico health policy;
And we continue to work on public financing of campaigns, protecting the races where public financing is available, trying to expand to other seats and working to clean up our system after a US Supreme Court ruling last year that held a small part of all public financing laws across the country to be unconstitutional.
In addition to our election protection work in 2012, we are focusing heavily on how we can be most effective during the next legislative session in January 2013. We have a number of bills to support, a handful to oppose and numerous opportunities to encourage all our Legislators to support and become champions for ethical, transparent government in New Mexico.