Democrats on a legislative committee made Secretary of State Dianna Duran the butt of jokes and criticism Friday, saying she had mishandled an investigation into voter fraud. Duran, a Republican, has forwarded 64,000 voter records to state police so its investigators can help determine whether any laws were broken. Those under investigation account for about 5 percent of New Mexico’s 1.16 million registered voters.
State Sen. Cisco McSorley, D-Albuquerque, told fellow members of the Courts, Corrections and Justice Committee that the massive scope of Duran’s investigation shocked him. He questioned her logic and her tactics. “I sure don’t think this is a public-safety issue,” McSorley said of Duran’s decision to involve police.
He said New Mexico’s 33 county clerks, who supervise elections, were “more than capable” of helping Duran determine if any election laws were violated.
Most of all, McSorley said, Duran’s decision to call on police to review 64,000 records was a bad use of valuable resources.
“I cannot remember one documented case of voter fraud,” he said.
Neither could anybody else on the committee.
Duran, in an earlier interview, said she felt obligated to turn over to police the cases that she considered “questionable” or that needed “further review.” Her staff began checking voter records in March. At that juncture, Duran told state legislators that she had suspicions about 37 voters.
Red flags were raised, she said, when her staff compared voter registration rolls to the state driver’s license records of foreign nationals. Illegal immigrants can obtain a New Mexico driver’s license, but cannot vote because they are not U.S. citizens.
But the so-called foreign national database includes many people who indeed are U.S. citizens. Years ago, they may have obtained their driver’s licenses with passports rather than Social Security cards, so they landed in the foreign database.