New Mexico GOP Caught Distorting Law in Poll Training

New Mexico GOP Caught Distorting Law in Poll Training October 9, 2012

One of the ways the Republican party has long tried to suppress the vote is by having poll challengers at voting sites — in Democratic districts only, of course — to pick people out that they claim may be ineligible to vote and challenge their right to vote in front of poll workers. Progress New Mexico got a hidden camera into a training session for those poll challengers and caught them lying about what the law says about challenging voters:

A recording of the September 26th official “Poll Challenger Training” conducted by the Republican Party shows a GOP & Tea Party leader giving false and/or misleading information about voting rights and regulations to the training’s attendees. The training was replete with misinformation about ID requirements, the use of provisional ballots, assistance for Spanish-speaking citizens, change of address requirements, and the rights of the disabled at the polls…

A major discrepancy in the Republican training is the claim that people who have changed their addresses must show a physical ID (1) and their address must match…

FACT: Very few people will have to show ID on November 6th. It will be noted on the voter roll if they must show a form of physical ID. People who registered by mail and did not send in a copy of the documents allowed for ID with the registration are in this category. It does not have to be a picture ID and the address on the document does not have to match the voter registration address.

All other voters may give a verbal ID (name, address, birth year). If they do want to or cannot say it out loud (not wanting to say birth year, for example), they may write the information down and give it to the poll official. (See the full list of acceptable forms of ID on the Secretary of State’s website here)…

The trainer said that a person who changed their address but stayed within their same voting precinct should receive a provisional ballot. FACT: Anyone in this situation is given a regular ballot at the polls. (See 1 NMAC 10.3)

The trainer claims that interpreters are not provided to non-English speakers and then is unsure if polling places will provide Spanish-language ballots. FACT: Assistance for people in language minorities is provided, as are Spanish-language ballots.

Here’s the video of the training session with these false claims:


There are a couple reasons why they do this. First, to force people to use provisional ballots to vote, making it less likely that they’ll be counted before the results are announced. Second, to gum up the works and make people have to wait longer in line to vote, forcing those with short windows of time to leave. The ultimate goal is to decrease the number of people who can vote because the more people who vote, the less likely the Republicans are to win. At the Michigan Messenger in 2008, we caught the state GOP planning to use foreclosure lists to challenge voters, which was blatantly illegal. The DNC filed a federal lawsuit as a result and the Republicans were forced to abandon their plans.

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  • Stories like this make me wonder: what ever happened to the automatic voting machines? I take it they were not enough to guarantee Republican wins, forcing them to resort to thug tactics?

  • Stevarious, Public Health Problem

    You know what would be super useful? If someone was keeping a big list of links to all these separate instances of voter fraud the GOP is committing this year. Does anyone know of such a resource?

  • MikeMa

    Voter fraud. A republican tradition coming to a jurisdiction near you.

  • RH

    Maybe being convicted of attempting to deny an eligible voter, or group thereof from casting a legal ballot should result in permanent removal of the convicted persons right to vote.

    Ignorance is not a defense.

  • Tim DeLaney

    Shenanigans like this provide ample reason for federal legislation to standardize voting requirements. Maybe in the next election cycle?

  • cry4turtles

    Once again the gnu Republican platform is…lie your fucking ass off!

  • pembroke529

    I lived in the US from 1996 till fall of 2010, mostly in western states (California and Nevada). I followed the news during that time. In my humble and objective opinion, it seems like the right wing has morphed into a metathesizing cancer on the democratic process in the US.

    Every election seems to bring more dirty tricks. This election cycle, it is vote disenfranchisement.

    Fucking pathetic.

  • Larry

    The GOP is finally right about something. There is fraud in our elections!

  • It’s time to stop fucking around and to start bringing criminal charges against these people/ organizations and to and giving prison sentences for this shit.

  • mary

    I have never heard of poll challengers. It sounds like it would be upseting for people. Those not sure of their rights or easily intimidated could be discouraged from voting by these people. It is a pretty sleezy way to influence votes.

    I have never seen or heard of this happening in Canada. I would suspect people trying to harass voters at a polling station would be removed. I understand it is only the poll workers who can question voters and ask for ID/infornation. However, I am not positive of the legalities surrounding this.

  • erichoug

    When I voted in 2004 there was a glitch in my registration.So, I voted in a different precinct than my wife. The precinct that she voted in is made up of middle class homes where wealthy white people mainly live. The precinct I voted in is largely made up of cheap apartments and people that are not wealthy and often times not white.

    The precinct she voted in had twice as many poll workers and voting booths as the one that I voted in. She walked right in and was done in less than 10 minutes. I waited in line for nearly an hour and I heard the next day that they had actually closed the polls at my location with people still wanting to vote.

    There are some things I do agree with the Republicans on. But, I cannot in good conscience vote for a party whose primary strategy for polling success revolves around disenfranchising citizens.

  • flex

    In regard to poll challengers, in our Michigan township we have been using the same set of Democrat and Republican poll challengers for years. Usually the voters don’t even know they are there, and there are very specific rules in Michigan for poll challengers.

    Provided they are properly trained and perform their task properly they are simply another set of eyes to ensure voting is fair.

    I would be curious as to where Ed learned that Republican poll challengers are only present in Democrat districts. In our township we have five precincts, one of which votes heavily Republican and four which vote strongly Democratic, and we have both Democratic and Republican poll challengers in all precincts.

  • Olav

    Poll challengers?

    Dear Americans, are you mad? Why allow such interference with the democratic process?

  • Olav

    Flex, #12:

    Provided they are properly trained and perform their task properly they are simply another set of eyes to ensure voting is fair.

    There are two conditions in that sentence. But how do you check whether the conditions are met? Poll challenger challengers?


  • katkinkate

    You Americans need an independent, non-political electoral management system for national elections at least. How can the GOP get away with this blatantly fraudulent behaviour. There should be fines, suspension of voting rights, even jail terms for some of this. It blows me away that we hear of such practices, that seem to be well known, election after election and nothing has been done! Surely some of this is illegal. It should be illegal.

  • D. C. Sessions

    Dear Americans, are you mad? Why allow such interference with the democratic process?

    Historically it was necessary to keep the wrong people [1] from voting.

    [1] You know who we mean.

  • eddarrell

    Time for the U.S. attorney to step in with racketeering charges. Vote suppression, for one vote, is a federal crime. Training like this? Hello, RICO.

  • Olav

    D.C. Sessions, yes, I know. But it is easy to forget sometimes, when looking at the US from a (safe?) distance.

  • Bjarni

    Wow. Just wow.

    If someone tried anything like that here (Australia) I have no doubt the cops would be called and it’d stop very quickly. I’m fairly sure you’re not even allowed to discuss how you plan to vote once you’re in line, so nobody can pressure anyone either way).

    American ‘voting’ is strange…

  • d.f.manno

    The problem is that the U.S. Constitution leaves the conduct of elections, for the most part, in the hands of the states. In virtually all states, that means elections are run by partisans.

    Like many things in the U.S., it’s not likely to change because the people who would have to vote to change it are those who benefit from the system as it is now.

  • dingojack

    I think what Olav, Bjarni et al. are saying is this*.



    * Allow me to translate : Sunt rabidus Romanus! 😉

  • John Phillips, FCD

    Perhaps the international community needs to send in election observers, like we often do in countries transitioning to a form of democracy. Except that it appears that your GOP is determined in transitioning away from democracy, at least for the ‘wrong’ people.

  • Olav

    Dingojack: yes, exactly 😉

    Although I suspect the cultural reference goes over the heads of most Americans.

  • fastlane

    Olav, I’m one of the probably few USians who get the reference. But then, I grew up reading Asterix and Obelix, first in English, then in German when I was trying to improve.

    Still have a few laying around somewhere.

  • Olav

    Fastlane, I’m genuinely impressed!