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Saturday, October 28, 2006
GOP Sues for List of Migrants' Licenses
By Tim Korte
The Associated Press
The Republican Party filed a lawsuit Friday seeking an emergency hearing to force state officials to disclose names of illegal immigrants who have obtained New Mexico driver's licenses.
The suit was filed in Bernalillo County and assigned to state District Judge Theresa Baca, who was out of her office until Monday the earliest a hearing could be scheduled.
For months, GOP officials have sought to check the list of driver's licenses against voter registration rolls to measure potential voter fraud.
In July, Republicans asked for the information but were given 150 pages of blacked-out lists.
Ken Ortiz, state Motor Vehicle Division director, said Friday his agency hadn't been served with the lawsuit, so he couldn't respond directly.
However, he repeated the MVD's position that the agency already has answered the GOP request by providing requested names. He said MVD officials redacted most of the list except ZIP codes to comply with federal privacy laws.
"We provided everything we are eligible to do under federal law. Per federal law, we have to redact certain information," he said.
A 2003 New Mexico law lets foreign nationals present a passport, a federal tax identification number or a consular identification card to apply for a license. Supporters say the measure has lowered the number of uninsured motorists.
The Republicans also complained Friday that their open records requests were rejected by state officials, citing executive privilege.
"We've been stonewalled at every turn ... under the veil of executive privilege," said Nina Martinez, state GOP secretary.
She said the administration is misapplying New Mexico's open records law, adding that executive privilege applies only to the decision-making process involving the governor and members of the governor's staff.
"Once a decision is reached, the decision becomes a public record," Martinez said. "The records we requested are the names of roughly 30,000 illegal immigrants who have received New Mexico driver's licenses. It is public record. It doesn't apply as executive privilege."
The Republicans also said the integrity of the election could be called into question by 201,713 voter identification cards that GOP officials said were returned to the Secretary of State's Office as undeliverable.
GOP officials asked Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron to require that voters whose cards were deemed undeliverable must present a state-issued photo identification before being allowed to vote.
Vigil-Giron has said that about 1.1 million voter ID cards were sent to registered New Mexico voters.
Voters whose cards were returned by the Post Office were placed on inactive status, but Vigil-Giron said federal law mandates that those people retain rights and can still vote early, by absentee ballot or on Election Day.
"This does not make rational sense, that one in five cards would be returned as undeliverable by the Post Office," Martinez said. "This is a major problem. ... Unfortunately, until we have the data we can't compare it to the voter registration rolls." Copyright ©2006 Associated Press.
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