State report: 19 noncitizens may have voted in NM
The Associated Press
Posted: 5:17 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011
Updated: 7:38 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011


At least 100 of New Mexico's registered voters appear to be noncitizens, and 19 of those people have cast ballots in past elections, according to a report issued Thursday by the state's top election official.

Secretary of State Dianna Duran, whose office has been reviewing the records of New Mexico's 1.1 million registered voters, said she's referring the cases of 104 people to the attorney general's office for additional investigation. She also has asked the individuals for clarification about their registration records. Under the law, only U.S. citizens are eligible to vote.

The secretary of state's office has been comparing information in voter registration files with driver's license data, cross-checking Social Security numbers, names and addresses to verify the accuracy of the state's registration rolls and detect potential voter fraud.

Duran, a Republican, supports a change in law to require voters to show identification at the polls, and earlier this year she raised questions whether some noncitizens may be wrongly registered to vote in the state. The issue arose after her office began checking records of foreign nationals, potentially including illegal immigrants, who have received driver's licenses under a 2003 law that Republican Gov. Susana Martinez proposes to repeal.

A top Democratic Party official sharply criticized Duran.

"When she should be doing everything in her power to extend access to the polls and make it easier for all those who meet the requirements to participate in our democracy, Duran has wasted countless hours and manpower on nothing more than a witch hunt deliberately concocted to make sure fewer people vote," Scott Forrester, executive director of the state Democratic Party, said in a statement.

New Mexico is one of only three states that allow illegal immigrants to obtain a license or permit to drive. In New Mexico, foreign nationals can use identification other than a Social Security number to obtain a license but the state does ask about an applicant's immigration status.

In a report of her preliminary findings, Duran said nine people registered to vote before getting a driver's license with documents required for foreign nationals. All have voted in New Mexico elections.

"It seems unlikely that a U.S. citizen would wait for the change in state law so that he or she could use foreign national credentials to obtain a driver's license. The presumption is that these nine individuals are not citizens, or were not at the time they registered and voted," said the report, which went to legislators and county elections officials.

Duran's report also said:

— 10 people registered to vote after getting a driver's license with foreign national documents. Three of those people indicated on their registration forms that they were not citizens. All of the individuals have voted.

— 85 registered voters who haven't cast ballots appear to be noncitizens because they obtained driver's licenses through the system for foreign nationals.

— Statewide registration records contain 2,608 records with duplicate Social Security numbers. Those are cases in which different individuals have the same number.

"To those who say that vote fraud (if it does exist) is 'insignificant,' our answer is that no instance of vote fraud, or ineligible registration, or ineligible voting, is now or ever will be 'insignificant' to this office," the report said. "Every single vote cast by an ineligible voter cancels and invalidates a vote cast by a legal voter and leaves that law-abiding citizen completely disenfranchised. It may also alter the outcome of an election."

Forrester said Duran's investigation "has turned up basically nothing, and she can't even say for sure what she did or did not find — 19 people out of 1 million registered voters who may or may not have actually done anything wrong? Here we go again, Dianna Duran is making even more claims without any facts to back them up." ... -nm/nFgX7/