Common Cause Supports Polling Place Safety Measures

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With intimidation, harassment and even violence against election officials, poll workers and candidates on the rise, Common Cause New Mexico is supporting two important measures this legislative session to protect public servants and the public when it comes to election-related violence and intimidation.

One, Senate Bill 43, sponsored by Sen. Katy Duhigg (D-Bernalillo), aims to protect election officials, including the secretary of state, county and municipal clerks and their employees, as well as voters from intimidation. Intimidation is defined as inducing fear by the threatened use of force, violence, infliction of damage, harm, loss or any form of economic retaliation.

SB 43 is now before the Senate Judiciary Committee today, Jan. 30, 2023.

“Election workers are the guardians of democracy and yet they have been followed, trolled and endured threatening phone calls here in New Mexico,” said Mario Jimenez, executive director of Common Cause New Mexico “This has got to stop.”

Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver testified before a congressional hearing last year about how she had to leave her home during the 2020 election due to threats. Across the country, harassment has increased since the 2020 election as Trump supporters and insurrectionists insisted that the election was rigged despite multiple court decisions to the contrary.

The other bill, Senate Bill 44, sponsored by Sen. Peter Wirth (D-Santa Fe) prohibits carrying firearms within 100 feet of a polling place during an election. Currently voters, campaigners and election workers are allowed to openly carry a weapon or conceal one if they have a concealed carry license. It will be heard by the Senate Rules Committee soon.

“There’s just no reason for an individual to carry a firearm into a polling place or have one while they stand outside,” Jimenez said.  “Often, proud parents will bring their children to the polling place to witness this important symbol of how voters decide the fate of our country. Guns at the polling place are intimidating to young and old alike and have no place in our democracy.”

Wirth’s proposal comes on the heels of gun violence aimed at the homes of four elected officials in the Albuquerque area.

Common Cause urges citizens concerned about transparency and corruption to call or write their legislators in support of SB 43 and SB 44.

Common Cause is a nonpartisan grassroots organization dedicated to upholding the core values of American democracy. We work to create open, honest, and accountable government that serves the public interest; promote equal rights, opportunity, and representation for all; and empower all people to make their voices heard as equals in the political process.