The Associated Press
Created: April 01, 2020 07:05 AM
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Republican Party is objecting to universal mail-in balloting procedures proposed by local election officials in response to the coronavirus pandemic as a substitute for in-person voting.
The dispute erupted Tuesday as a host of states rush to adopt alternatives to in-person voting amid a national public health emergency and government directive to avoid public gatherings and human contact.
The Republican Party, affiliated state legislators and a small share of county clerks said Tuesday in a court filing that the state’s June 2 primary should be handled by absentee procedures in which currently registered voters submit an application for a ballot that can be mailed or hand delivered.
The majority of county clerks petitioned the New Mexico Supreme Court to institute mail-in voting procedures that would issue ballots more broadly to addresses where election-related mail has not been returned and that are not on an inactive voter list.
That bipartisan proposal from 27 county clerks is supported by Democratic Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, the state’s top election regulator.
Republican legislators say a special or extraordinary session of the Democrat-led Legislature should be convened to ensure adequate deliberation and negotiate a solution. The original petition from clerks argues that it is illegal for the Legislature to meet by teleconference and that it’s too dangerous for the Legislature to convene in-person as the COVID-19 virus spreads.
New Mexico voters can request an absentee ballot for any reason and about one in four votes in the 2018 general election was cast by absentee ballots. Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by 15 percentage points statewide.
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