What started out as a review of 37 cases of possible voter fraud has mushroomed into a massive investigation by the State Police of some 64,000 cases. The Secretary of State’s Office, headed by newly elected Republican Dianna Duran, has turned over truckloads of voter records for the State Police to review.
Daniel Ivey-Soto, executive director of the organization that represents New Mexico’s 33 county clerks, has derided the investigation as a “64,000-record fishing expedition.” We disagree.
In fact, we’d like to see the investigation expanded further still, if that’s what it takes to finally bring resolution to an issue that has festered for far too long, casting doubt — justified or not — on our electoral process. And, while Ivey-Soto thinks the clerks would be better positioned to conduct such an investigation, we believe only a thorough and complete review by the State Police will be seen as credible.
Duran, who had been a state senator from Tularosa and a former Otero County clerk before winning election in 2010 as secretary of state, originally brought attention to 37 cases in which a person whose name is in the driver’s licenses foreign database appeared to have voted.
From that initial review, unveiled during a legislative committee hearing on the bill to prohibit those in the county illegally from obtaining a driver’s license, Duran said her staff has now flagged 64,000 cases as being worthy of review. That represents more than 5 percent of the state’s 1.16 million registered voters, and more than 10 percent of all those who voted in 2010. Many of those cases might be explained by something as simple as data-entry errors, Duran said.
While it will undoubtedly tie up state resources and manpower, we believe a thorough and complete review is long overdue. The issue of voter fraud has roiled New Mexico politics for far too long, creating an environment of skepticism and cynicism around our elections. It was at the heart of the scandal in which former U.S. Attorney David Iglesias was removed from office. Bills to require voter ID and tighten the registration process are among the most controversial heard in the Legislature every two years.