Election Protection Hotline Media Advisory
- Heather Ferguson
To: New Mexico Media
From: Common Cause New Mexico
Date: Oct. 12, 2020
Contact: Heather Ferguson 505-980-9086
Re: Questions about Voting
With an unprecedented number of absentee ballots already issued, and new procedures planned for polling places statewide, Common Cause is fielding many specific questions this election season.
To answer these questions and resolve any problems during the voting period, Common Cause is teaming up with the ACLU of NM to operate a non-partisan hotline for the public. Voters can call 1-866-OUR VOTE 866-687-8683 or for Spanish speakers 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA for answers to these questions or assistance.
Here are the most common questions and answers, for assistance in your public service announcements and election coverage:
How and when do I apply for my absentee ballot?
You can request an application on line at: https://portal.sos.state.nm.us/OVR/WebPages/AbsenteeApplication.aspx or if you have already been mailed an application, by returning that to your County Clerk by mail. Your county clerk must receive your signed NM Absentee Ballot Application by October 20.
How do I complete my absentee ballot?
Follow the directions exactly. Complete your ballot front and back. Insert your ballot in the smaller inner envelope. Place the inner envelope in the return envelope. Be sure to sign the envelope and add the last for digits of your social security number. No one should sign your ballot or envelope for you.
What are the ways I can return my absentee ballot?
By Mail: The New Mexico SOS suggests mailing in your ballot by October 27 to ensure it is received in time to be counted. No postage is necessary. The earlier the better!
In Person: You can hand-deliver your ballot enclosed in its official mailing envelope to your County Clerk’s office or annex — check hours and locations by county. You can also deliver your ballot to any polling place on Election Day and during early voting. In several counties, there will be drop boxes outside polling places and/or separate lines for those returning absentee ballots. Check with your County Clerk’s office for specific locations. In Bernalillo County on Nov. 3, there will be a drive-by station staffed by election personnel outside City Hall at 5th and Marquette.
Can someone else return my ballot for me?
Yes. Your caregiver or a member of your immediate family may deliver your absentee ballot to the county clerk in person or by mail.
What are the deadlines to return an absentee ballot?
Your absentee ballot must be received by your County Clerk by 7:00 p.m. on Election Day. After October 23, the NM Secretary of State suggests hand-delivering your ballot to an early voting site or the clerk’s office rather than sending it by mail in order to ensure your ballot is received in time.
How do I check the status of my ballot?
If you have not received an absentee ballot, even though you requested it, or want to check to see whether the County Clerk has received your ballot after you have mailed it back, you can enter your registration information at: https://voterportal.servis.sos.state.nm.us/WhereToVote.aspx?tab=AbsenteeTracker to track the status of your ballot. This year, intelligent bar codes have been added to all absentee ballots to allow for this tracking process.
What if I never received my absentee ballot or my ballot is not received by the County Clerk?
Call the County Clerk to ask for a replacement ballot, or if it is too late to receive it by mail, go to an early voting location to request a replacement ballot. You’ll need to sign an affidavit stating you did not receive or use your original absentee ballot.
What if I tear, throw out, mess up or lose my absentee ballot?
Contact your local County Clerk for a replacement ballot. You will need to sign an affidavit. Intentionally voting twice–once by absentee and again at the polling place– is a 4th degree felony. Fortunately, automated mechanisms are in place to discount any second ballot cast in error.
What if I forgot to sign my absentee ballot or add the last four digits of my social security number, as required?
Within 24 hours, the County Clerk will notify you by phone, email or registered letter so that you can “cure” your ballot and it can be counted. Follow the directions given by the Clerk, which will be to appear at the Clerk’s office, annex or warehouse where you can sign the ballot. Once you remedy the problem, your vote will be counted even if you correct your error shortly after the Nov. 3 deadline.
Early and Election Day Voting
Is Photo ID required?
No, voters simply state their name, address and birthdate and sign the roster on a small machine at the registration desk. There is only one exception–if you registered by mail and did not provide identification at that time. Then you must show an ID. Identification can include (1) a current and valid photo identification; or (2) a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, student identification card or other government document, including identification issued by an Indian nation, tribe or pueblo that shows your name and current address.
How do I know where the polling places are located?
You can lookup your polling place online: https://voterportal.servis.sos.state.nm.us/WhereToVote.aspx
Local newspapers often list the polling places.
Can I vote early?
Yes. All registered voters can vote early. Voting began at your local County Clerk’s office or their annex on Tuesday, October 6 and continues through Oct. 31. Check your County Clerk’s office to confirm hours and locations. More early voting locations open on Oct. 16 (7am-7pm) in every county and remain open through Oct. 31. Go to your County Clerk’s website for exact locations, or use the link above.
What safety precautions are being taken at polling places?
Poll workers will have protective garb, including masks and shields. Polling stations and equipment will be regularly sanitized. Voters must be spaced six feet apart when standing in line. Masks will be provided and are encouraged; however those without masks will not be ejected.
Can I still register to vote?
The online voter registration deadline has passed, however, you can still register at the County Clerk’s office or early voting locations from Oct. 16-31.
Can I register to vote and vote on the same day?
Although voters cannot yet register and vote on Election Day, Nov. 3, they can register during the early voting period (Oct. 16-Oct. 31) at the Clerks office or annexes or at designated early voting locations—and then vote on the same day. To find out which locations are registering voters contact your County Clerk.
Polling Place Procedures
What if I go to the polling place and they say I am not on the rolls?
If you have moved and failed to change your registration, or an error has been made and you are not on the rolls, you must be given a provisional ballot.
Do provisional ballots count?
Yes. After your County Clerk verifies that you’re qualified to vote, your ballot will be counted within ten days of the election. If you’d like to watch your ballot being counted, you may contact your County Clerk.
How do I know I can cast my ballot without interference?
The right to cast your ballot is a sacred American right. The NM Election Code forbids electioneering within 100 feet of a polling place. Intimidation of voters and obstruction are crimes. Police are not permitted inside polling places unless precinct officials call them in to resolve disputes. However, under New Mexico law, weapons—concealed and unconcealed—may be carried into polling places.
What do I do if I am being intimidated or discouraged from voting?
Every eligible voter has the right to vote safely in person without fear and intimidation. If you or someone you know experiences voter intimidation during this election, call the nonpartisan Election Protection hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE.
What if my vote is challenged by a poll challenger?
NM Election Code permits each political party to appoint poll watchers and poll challengers for each polling place. If they are properly registered with the County Clerk, they can observe who votes.
Most often, Poll Watchers are connected with a political party’s get-out-the-vote efforts, and they simply phone back to their headquarters to indicate which of their known supporters have (or have not) voted. These watchers must live in the county and should not be directly interacting with voters inside a polling location.
However, there are also party affiliated Poll Challengers. They are also stationed inside a polling location and they may challenge an individual’s right to vote with the precinct judge, if for example, the voter does not appear on the voting rolls. That voter may be asked to cast a provisional ballot and the voting roll will note that their vote was challenged. Precinct officials have a methodology of resolving these challenges. Nevertheless, the voter hotline should be notified when these issues arise.