By Peter Simonson, ACLU-NM Executive Director
The GOP’s efforts to convince voters that the election system is wracked by fraud took another hit last week when the NM Court of Appeals rejected the Party’s effort to get a hold of the names and addresses of undocumented immigrants who have received state driver’s licenses. The GOP had hoped to use the information to check whether non-citizen immigrants were registered to vote in New Mexico.
Talk about a wild goose chase. What immigrant is going to risk felony charges, permanent deportation, and the total upheaval of his or her family just to cast a ballot in a US election? Barely fifty percent of American citizens exercise that right even in the best of years!
What’s really concerning is how readily local GOP leaders will sacrifice individuals’ right to privacy in the zeal to find evidence of voter fraud. Two years ago the ACLU sued members of the Republican Party for violating state privacy laws after the Party obtained copies of individual voter registration forms and released the information to the press. GOP members also used the information to track down lawful voters and challenge their right to vote in their homes.
Americans don’t need another disincentive to vote, like the belief that fraud so compromises the election system that voting is fruitless. If the GOP truly has the best interests of our electoral democracy in mind, it should devote its effort to encouraging New Mexicans to take part in elections. It could start by promoting mobile vote registration campaigns and removing ID requirements for voting in Albuquerque elections.