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A voter Q&A from my time working NM’s primary polls

In June, I had the opportunity to participate as a poll worker for the primary elections. As an individual who will be of voting age in January, I had many questions about the voting process. Given that there was a shortage of poll workers due to COVID-19, I also considered it my civic duty to help out. During my experience, many questions were brought to my attention by the voters. With the November election approaching soon, I thought that if they had those questions, others might as well, and it might be important to pose them here:

Why aren’t you asking to see ID?

A state ID or picture ID is not required to vote in New Mexico (outside of some municipal elections). One gentleman approached me at the check-in table and said, paraphrased, “So if I had the information for my son – name, year of birth, address – who is in school in Texas and I told you that I was him, you would accept what I said at face value and print me a ballot with his name on it?” The answer was, “Yes, we cannot identify you through a picture ID, but it would be fraudulent for you to do so.”

The gentleman did not, of course, do this and was reasonably affronted by the idea that someone could do this in this election. Of course, at the polls, any of the workers have the right to contest somebody’s vote, but it would require approval from the presiding judge as well as a unanimous approval from all of the other workers.

There were also two other people who approached me and presented their IDs and when told they were not necessary, insisted that I look at them because they felt it was that important that a voter be identified as eligible to vote.

Why aren’t voting rules posted?

We had two individuals show up to vote who were registered as Independents. Since it was a primary election, they were not allowed to vote on the Democrat, Republican or Libertarian tickets. They stated that in other states, registered Independents could choose to vote in one of the primary elections. However, New Mexico has a closed primary. It seemed as if this information was not well known and voter-rule posting could have prevented these people from waiting in line only to be sent home without casting their vote.

Who can legally vote?

When talking with another poll worker, I was informed of a situation in which an individual arrived with two other individuals who were severely intellectually disabled. There were questions by those in attendance about whether the individuals with impairments had the “right” to vote. Coming from a family who works closely with individuals with developmental disabilities, I am aware that individuals with intellectual impairments retain their right to vote, even if they are adjudicated due to lack of capacity and have a guardian. Other attendees stated that in this situation, it seemed as if these individuals with severe intellectual disabilities were unaware of the process and their caretaker was casting votes for them. The question posed was, “Who monitors the influence on the vote of those who are deemed incapacitated and the potential fraud that might occur?”

What changed since I last voted?

For a small percentage of voters, the system showed they were not registered to one of the three major parties. These voters were insistent they had been registered to one of these parties for years and have never had this issue. Unfortunately, these voters left without voting or casting a provisional ballot. I am not aware of what exactly the issue was (and) do not know if this glitch has been investigated or fixed.

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