Commentary: At Tuesday’s meeting of the Doña Ana County Board of Commissioners, County Clerk Scott Krahling announced his support for New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver’s decision to protect the privacy of New Mexico voters by denying a request made by the Trump Administration’s Presidential Advisory Commission of Election Integrity.
“I stand firmly with Secretary Toulouse Oliver, who following New Mexico law, has refused to release our voters’ private information,” Krahling said. “This is more than fake news or alternative facts; it is blatant disregard of the hard work by election administrators nationwide, who understand the complexities of maintaining integrity in the election process and work hard every day to maintain confidence in democracy. “
Krahling said the commission’s request for private information is based on the false and politically charged claim that millions of people voted illegally last year. The information requested includes the dates of birth and the last four digits of the Social Security number for every registered voter, all of which are protected by New Mexico law.
“If the administration’s goal is to preserve the integrity of elections, then it should have followed the lead of previous presidential commissions which had bipartisan leadership and focused on real issues that are not politically motivated,” Krahling said, adding that people are calling his office asking that their personal information not be released.
“They want their personal data to remain private, and I stand with Secretary Toulouse Oliver and her decision to follow New Mexico’s law and assure our voters that their information will be kept secure,” he said.
Other states agree with New Mexico’s stance on refusing to release protected information to the federal government. Republican and Democrat leaders in 45 states have refused to release the requested information. In addition, the American Civil Liberties Union has brought a lawsuit against Trump’s actions alleging that the commission has violated federal law by holding a meeting behind closed doors.
“The federal commission is hastily moving forward on a partisan agenda,” Krahling said. “That's why it is receiving bipartisan opposition, and that’s why we need strong leaders standing up for what's right. The federal government should be spending its resources on protecting the right to vote, not irresponsibly wasting them on futile efforts and partisan accusations.”.
The New Mexico Secretary of State and the Doña Ana County Clerk’s Office maintain integrity of voter rolls on a daily basis as follows:
· Deceased persons are removed from the voter registration rolls on a daily basis, and checked again when the Secretary of State’s office sends the monthly report generated by the Department of Vital Statistics.
· Updated registrations are brought current daily in the voter database, and current registration forms replace the voter’s previous registration form in the files.
· Registrations of voters who have moved out of state or registered with another county within New Mexico are updated on a daily basis.
· The federally mandated purge process was successfully executed in March. It is a deliberate and methodical process that purges voters who have moved and not voted in two subsequent General Election cycles.
· Implementation of the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) is underway, which will compare voter registration rolls between states and with other databases to collectively maintain registration rolls. New Mexico is a voluntary member of ERIC along with 19 other states and Washington D.C.
Krahling added that he is confident in the integrity of elections in Doña Ana County as a result of his experience managing elections for many years, and as a result of an incident the Clerk’s office managed in the past, which exposed statewide vulnerabilities.
“As a result of properly managing that incident and having a resilient team, we immediately implemented best practices to safeguard and protect our voters’ private information,” he said. “Moreover, we shared these protective strategies with our colleagues across the state.”
“Every voter registration form represents a person who is going to exercise the right to vote,” Krahling said. “This requires us to take our job seriously and to make every effort to never disenfranchise a voter. We want everyone to vote in every election.”