In extraordinary times, we must protect the right to vote!
The fundamental right to vote will be severely burdened if sufficient allowance is not made for alternative and flexible voting methods in the upcoming 2020 primary elections. Proceeding with standard in-person voting would force the people of New Mexico to choose between their health and safety and the exercise of their franchise, and absentee ballot voting alone would not offer equal protection to all the people of the State – particularly restricting the rights of rural voters, Native American voters, and voters with disabilities.
Unfortunately the New Mexico Supreme Court did not find in favor of moving to a mail-in election for the 2020 primaries, and we will be working to help expedite absentee ballots for eligible voters who request them. Please read our statement on the ruling below:
The New Mexico Supreme Court soundly rejected an emergency proposal to conduct an “All Mail Primary Election,” made by New Mexico’s County Clerks and supported by the Secretary of State and several amici respondents including civil rights organizations, and the Navajo Nation in wake of the global pandemic. The court ruled that state law prohibits the mailing of ballots to every registered voter, however the court did allow for the mail of absentee ballot applications to active registered voters which requires several more steps to acquire a ballot as opposed to the less cumbersome path of sending a ballot directly to the voter as proposed by the County Clerks. The court maintained existing primary election administration procedures for all in-person voting on election day or early voting with the change to comply with state public health orders for physical distancing and metering a six foot distance at public venues.
Common Cause New Mexico, the Navajo Nation, NAVA Education Project, NM Native Vote and the other citizen organizations who supported a flexible voting approach that also substantially diminished the risk of Covid -19 community spread rejected by the Supreme Court today will be working diligently with the clerks to ensure voters are educated and prepared to vote using absentee ballots in June while also protecting the health and welfare of voters to the extent possible.
This decision by the NMSC has a disproportionate adverse impact on Native American voters, voters with impairments and disabilities, and certain communities of rural voters. The Native American electorate is currently experiencing community outbreaks of the deadly Covid-19 virus at an alarming rate. The complexity of mailing addresses in tribal areas and other rural areas presents a high potential for disenfranchisement. In recent primary elections, the distribution and retrieval of absentee ballots presented innumerable problems among the most prevalent were that voters did not receive their ballots in time to meet the state’s deadline. Due to the nationwide reliance on mail delivery we can anticipate similar problems in New Mexico. We will do our best to prevent the Wisconsin debacle from happening in New Mexico.
To help guarantee your right to vote in the times of COVID-19, we encourage you to apply for an absentee ballot. You can do so RIGHT NOW. Please find additional resources at the links below!