Tuesday, January 10, 2012

ACLU Asks For Summary Judgment in Suit Against SOS

New Mexico’s chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is asking a judge to rule on its suit that would force the Secretary of State’s Office to turn over the names of the foreign nationals who registered to vote in New Mexico.

The issue first arose during last year’s Legislature when Secretary of State Dianna Duran told a House committee considering legislation aimed at alleged voter fraud that 17 non-citizens  had illegally registered to vote in the state and that 37 of those had actually voted in elections here.

“Secretary of State Duran undermined the public's confidence in our elections when she alleged fraud, then refused to substantiate those claims, the civil liberties group’s New Mexico director Peter Simonson said in a news release. “Making unfounded allegations that cast doubt on the integrity of our entire system of government is reckless.”

I’ve asked for response from the Secretary of State’s office. I’ll post that whenever I receive it.

The lawsuit is seeking the lists of alleged foreign nationals who registered to vote and the signature rosters and checklists that would prove they actually cast ballots in an election.

In November, Duran’s office released a report saying it could only prove that 19 foreigners actually have voted here — and that some of those might have done so mistakenly thinking they had the right to vote. The number of non-citizens who registered to vote shrank to 104, according to the report.

In addition to those, Duran’s office has said there were two other registered voters who voluntarily asked that their names be taken off the voter rolls because they are noncitizens. One of those was a 22-year employee of an unspecified county government who has been voting in most elections since the late '90s. In both cases, the person did not know it was illegal for a non-citizen to register to vote until they applied for citizenship.

The Secretary of State’s office has released more than 100 pages of documents — many of which were heavily redacted. But they have refused to release records with the non-citizen names or the voter rosters

Duran’s office has claimed that releasing the records sought would violate state and federal privacy laws against releasing Motor Vehicle Department records. The ACLU has argued that it’s not seeking MVD records but instead voting records, which are considered public information.

Links to the motion for summary judgment and other documents in the case can be found HERE.