NM Supreme Court rules out a vote by mail election for 2020


Today’s ruling by the New Mexico Supreme Court clears the path to a Primary Election that will protect the health and wellness of voters across New Mexico while preserving the integrity of the election. The court’s refusal to rewrite New Mexico election law—to allow the unsolicited mailing of live ballots as part of an all vote-by-mail (VBM) election–shows the proper respect for the importance of election integrity, even in the face of the challenges posed by COVID-19. Allowing Secretary Oliver to mail live VBM ballots to every address on New Mexico’s poorly maintained voter rolls would have put the integrity of our primary election at risk and left the election vulnerable to fraud.

With the Court’s decision, RPNM is pleased it has successfully made the case that existing law allows for the use of absentee ballots, while keeping voters and poll workers safe from COVID-19 and taking reasonable steps to preserve the integrity of the process. The health and safety of all are paramount.

Under the court’s ruling, voters will still be able to easily request an absentee ballot, which will be tracked, accurately recorded and issued if the voter is able to satisfy the application’s requirements for three forms of voter identification. Mailing a live ballot to every address on the poorly maintained voter rolls would have eliminated these common-sense election integrity measures.

“This decision by the Court ensures that the health and safety of every voter and worker is protected, while making sure that our election will not be susceptible to fraud,” said RPNM Chairman Steve Pearce. “We are pleased that the Justices recognized this and that we can proceed with a fair and free election in a safe environment.”

The decision also protects New Mexico’s Constitution. Had the Supreme Court rewritten New Mexico’s laws to provide for the mailing of live VBM ballots without an application, it would have usurped the power of the state legislature and violated New Mexico’s separation of powers. Election law is the responsibility of the legislative branch of government. It is gratifying that the Justices did not accept the request by the petitioners to bypass the legislature and create “new law.”

Photo by Bill Oxford on Unsplash

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