Fair and transparent elections are the wish of every New Mexican.  

Senate Bill 454 is an attempt to revamp New Mexico’s election system. This legislation,  even though a move in the correct direction to fulfill the promise of fair and transparent  elections, still falls short on that promise. 

This bill thwarts election transparency by creating a cloaking device for the election  infrastructure. Anyone seeking information to provide independent verification of an  election will now face almost insurmountable roadblocks.  

A legal scholar once noted: “We failed to settle this dispute before the election, and thus  provide clear rules. Now we again fail to provide clear rules for future elections. The  decision to leave election law hidden beneath a shroud of doubt is baffling. By doing  nothing, we invite further confusion and erosion of voter confidence.” 

There it is. 

New Mexico’s election system has been under fierce scrutiny this past year. SB-454 does  attempt to address the erosion of confidence but whisks away the idea of open and fair  elections when it maintains zero access to the voting machines. Anyone should be able to  access this information. Transparency is a powerful antidote to secrecy.  

Aside from the voting machines, this bill limits poll challengers’ access regarding ballot  certification. This meaningful work of a poll challenger ensures integrity and  transparency. To not allow challengers to do their job again brings into question the  fairness of the process. This measure is an absolute must if we are ever going to restore  the faith of the public in our elections. Restoring faith in election integrity is critical to  sustaining a functional government. The actual decisions must be made at the lowest  level where neighbor meets neighbor.  

SB-454 also limits IPRA (Inspection of Public Records Act) requests for New Mexico  elections, thus greatly hampering the oversight and reviews of elections. 

Questions are also being raised about lessening identification requirements. It is  imperative that voters provide their name, signature, address, and a unique identification,  such as the last four digits of their social security number. This makes more sense in  terms of integrity and security rather than all this information pre-printed on an absentee  ballot. 

In 2020 The Republican Party of New Mexico took issue with how GOP poll challengers  were treated and given limited access to monitor polling places. We take issue with the  weakening of any security provision in the election process. If Democrats seek to lessen  such provisions, we cannot support such legislation.

Election integrity has always been paramount to the Republican Party of New Mexico. If the voting and handling of our elections are truly open and fair, the Party will accept the outcome. 

Todd Hathorne 

Rio Rancho

 

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