Secretary of State Dianna Duran repeatedly told a panel of lawmakers Friday her office is not pursuing any political agenda regarding voter registration in New Mexico and she flatly denied allegations that she’s targeting illegal immigrants in a review of the state’s voter rolls.
Duran, a former Republican state senator and county clerk, said she’s simply making good on a campaign promise to verify that all of the 1.16 million people who are registered to vote in New Mexico are in fact legally eligible to cast a ballot.
“I told the people of the state of New Mexico last year … that I would do my best to serve in the best possible way that I could to assure integrity in the election process, integrity in the election system,” she said. “That’s all that is going on here. It is not a witch hunt. It is not a fishing expedition.”
Duran appeared before the interim Legislative Courts, Corrections and Justice Committee to update the bipartisan panel on continuing efforts by her office to review voter files. The review, started earlier this year, sparked a storm of criticism from voter rights advocates and immigrant groups.
Duran first announced in March during a legislative hearing that a crosscheck of voter rolls with a list of thousands of foreign nationals who have been issued driver’s licenses under a much debated state law showed Social Security numbers on voter registrations didn’t match up with names in 117 cases.
At the time, her office said at least 37 of those identified by the crosscheck voted in New Mexico elections. That incited concerns about fraud, and Duran said further investigation was needed.
After comparing the voter rolls against state motor vehicle data as well as information from the Social Security Administration, Duran’s office identified about 64,000 cases — 5 percent of the electorate — in which the data did not match. She then asked the state Department of Public Safety to help review those records.
Duran has been criticized in recent weeks because she has refused to release documents related to the investigation after getting a flood of public records requests from the media, county clerks and other groups. Some Democrat lawmakers on the committee said the issue has become one of government transparency.