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Duran investigating whether dead people have voted in New Mexico

Photo: Chris Steller
Photo: Chris Steller

The office of Secretary of State Dianna Duran says that the names of 641 dead people are still on the voter registration rolls in New Mexico.

Ken Ortiz, Duran’s chief of staff, says they still don’t know whether anyone has voted using the name of a dead person because they need to check the dates of death against the dates when the names were last used to vote.

The review of voter registration records will be part of a report to the Legislature that Duran is compiling. As part of this review, Duran also announced that 2 non-citizen foreign nationals had confessed to accidentally registering to vote without knowing that it was illegal.

Duran has made pursuing voter fraud by foreign nationals a high priority, and earlier in the year announced that her office had identified at least 117 foreign nationals on the voter registration rolls, and that 37 foreign nationals had voted in the 2010 elections.

As Keesha Gaskins of the Brennan Center for Justice observed after Duran’s announcement, matching the names and birthdays of voters and lists of foreign nationals in the state is a bad way to check if illegal voting has taken place. Statistically, Gaskins points out, finding matching names and birthdays is quite likely when comparing lists with hundreds of thousands of names over long periods of time.

Finding mismatches between names and Social Security numbers on voter rolls is also a flawed method of identifying fraud, because it discounts the possibility that a Social Security number could be incorrectly entered into the system, either due to the voter’s error when filling out the form or due to an error during data entry.

At the time, Duran also claimed that there were up to 64,000 possible cases of voter fraud in the state. The ACLU of New Mexico filed a lawsuit against Duran in July after she made this claim and refused to release documentation to back it up, which the ACLU argued was a violation of the state’s public records law.

Duran said this week that her office is asking some voters to re-register due to irregularities on their form. However, she also said that she would not be purging inactive voter files this year or next year because by federal law notices must be sent in advance to the voter’s address notifying them that their file will be eliminated, something her predecessor did not do.

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