The District Attorney’s office and the law enforcement community serves a vital role in upholding the Election Code and preventing any unlawful interference with the election. Below are community resources to protect the integrity of this year’s election.
Election Protection 2020
Common Cause New Mexico is a nonpartisan voter protection program that seeks to ensure that every eligible New Mexico voter who wants to vote can and that every vote is counted accurately. Their Election Protection program is not affiliated with any party, candidate or issue campaign.
Voters who experience any difficulties while voting are encouraged to use the following hotlines to get live advice from their attorneys. These hotlines will be connected to response teams on the ground to address problems as they occur.
Guidance on Voter Intimidation and Discriminatory Conduct
Voter intimidation and discriminatory conduct is illegal under federal and New Mexico law. Any activity that threatens, harasses or intimidates voters, including any activity that is intended to, or has the effect of, interfering with any voter’s right to vote, whether it occurs outside the polling place or inside the polling place is illegal.
First, document what you see:
● What are the armed people doing?
● What are the armed people wearing?
● Are they carrying firearms? If so, what type? If not, are they carrying other types of weapons?
● Are they wearing insignia? If so, what does it say or look like?
● Are they bearing signs or flags?
● Do they seem to be patrolling like a law enforcement officer might do?
● Do they seem to be coordinating their actions?
● Do they have a leader?
● Are they stopping or talking to people outside of their group?
● Do they appear to be provoking or threatening violence? If so, what are they doing specifically?
● Are people turning away from the polling station after seeing or speaking with them?
Second, call Election Protection at 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) to report what you see. Assistance in also available in Spanish at 888-VE-Y-VOTA (888- 839-8682), in Arabic at 844-YALLA-US (844-915-5187), and Asian languages at 888-API-VOTE (1-888-174-8683). A video call number for American Sign Language is available at 301-818-VOTE (301-818-8683).
The following persons are permitted in the polling place while voting is occurring:
● Precinct board members.
● Voters in the process of voting.
● Persons lawfully providing assistance to voters.
● Poll watchers.
● County and state canvass observers.
● State police or other peace officers, under conditions described below.
● Election officials are prohibited under federal law including the United States Constitution, the Voting Rights Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act from discriminating against voters based on race, ethnicity, national origin, language, disability or religion, or from allowing any discriminatory conduct by private actors to affect voters.
● Individuals who discriminate against voters can be fined up to $5,000 and face up to five years in prison.
● Election officials and private citizens are prohibited from conspiring with others to deprive a voter of her right to vote.
● Individuals who conspire with others to interfere with a person’s right to vote can face up to 10 years in prison.
Discrimination: Discrimination against voters, where by private citizen or election officials, is prohibited. In particular:
● Election officials may not treat voters differently in any way based on race or other protected characteristics, including asking voters of only certain ethnic or racial groups to show ID or to answer questions to vote.
● Election official and private citizens may not challenge a person’s eligibility to vote based on the racial or ethnic makeup of a precinct or polling place. They also may not base challenges or mailings targeted at individuals living in precincts with large concentrations of minorities.
● Election judges may not accept a private citizen’s challenge to a voter’s eligibility if the challenge was discriminatory, or based on unreliable information.
Intimidation: Private Citizens, whether acting as election challengers, watchers or observers, may not directly confront voters. They also may not use raised voices or insulting, offensive or threating language.
Deceptive Practices: It is unlawful to disseminate misleading information about elections, including flyers or other communication that purposely misstate the time and date of an election, where it will be held, and how voting will happen.
Misuse of Law Enforcement: Law enforcement officials generally may not be present at the polls except to vote, assist in maintaining order, and, upon request, observe the election proceedings, and private citizens may not be at polling places dressed to appear like law enforcement officials.
Conspiracy to Violate Voter’s Rights: Private Citizens may not assist others in discriminatory or intimidating conduct.
● Aggressive behavior inside or outside the polling place.
● Blocking the entrance to the polling place.
● Direct confrontation or questioning of voters, or asking voters for documentation where none is required.
● Disrupting voting lines inside or outside of the polling place.
● Disseminating false or misleading election information.
● Election workers treating voters differently in any way based on race or other protected characteristics.
● Brandishing of weapons.
● Photographing or videotaping voters to intimidate them.
● Poll watchers or party challengers confronting, hovering or directly speaking to voters.
● Posting signs inside the polling place of penalties for “voter fraud” based on voting or support for a candidate.
● Challenges to voters by election workers and party challengers that are made without a stated good faith basis.
● Challenges by anyone other than a member of the precinct board or by a party challenger.
● Using raised voices, insulting offensive or threatening language, or making taunting chants inside the polling place.
● Vandalism of polling places.
● Verbal or physical confrontation of voters by persons dressed in official-looking uniforms.
● Violence or using the threat of violence to interfere with a person’s right to vote.
●Police officers are permitted at the polling place upon request of election officials for the purpose of observing the conduct of the election. However, police officers may not interfere with voting procedures except to maintain order.
●Uniformed police officers, and poll watchers wearing official-seeming clothing in polling places has been found to intimidate voters. The Department recommends that counties balance the potentially intimidating effect of uniformed individuals in the polling place with the need to preserve peace.
●The following peace officers may not serve as party challengers, watchers, or observers: a sheriff, deputy sheriff, marshal, deputy marshal or state or municipal police officer.
Individuals who witness voter intimidation or who are victims of voter intimidation may report the incident to the Secretary of State’s Office, their County Clerk’s Office and County District Attorney.
Crimes and Penalties under the NM Election Code
Intimidation consists of inducing or attempting to induce fear in any member of a precinct board [election board], voter, challenger or watcher by use of or threatened use of force, violence, infliction of damage, harm or loss or any form of economic retaliation, upon any voter, precinct board [election board] member, challenger or watcher for the purpose of impeding or preventing the free exercise of the elective franchise or the impartial administration of the election or Election Code [Chapter 1 NMSA 1978].
Whoever commits intimidation is guilty of a fourth degree felony.
False voting consists of:
A. voting or offering to vote with the knowledge of not being a qualified elector;
B. voting or offering to vote in the name of any other person;
C. voting or offering to vote more than once in the same election;
D. falsifying any information on an absentee ballot official mailing envelope or affixing a signature or mark other than one’s own on an absentee ballot official mailing envelope;
E. inducing, abetting or procuring or attempting to induce, abet or procure a person known to not be a qualified elector to vote; or
F. inducing, abetting or procuring or attempting to induce, abet or procure a person who, having voted once in any election, to vote or attempt to vote again at the same election.
Whoever commits false voting is guilty of a fourth degree felony.
A. Obstructing the polling place consists of:
(1) any person other than a voter offering to vote, a member of the precinct board [election board], a lawfully appointed challenger or watcher, an election observer, an election official having business in the polling place or a person authorized by the Election Code [Chapter 1 NMSA 1978] to give assistance to a voter who, during the conduct of the election, approaches nearer than fifty feet from the door through which voters may enter to vote at the office of the county clerk, an alternate voting location, a mobile voting site or any location used as a polling place; or
(2) any person who willfully blocks the entrance to a polling place so as to prevent free ingress and egress.
B. A person conducting lawful, non-election-related business nearer than fifty feet from the door through which voters may enter to vote is not guilty of obstructing a polling place, provided the person does not willfully block the entrance to the polling place.
C. Whoever obstructs the polling place is guilty of a petty misdemeanor.
Disturbing the polling place consists of creating any disorder or disruption at the polling place on election day, or consists of interfering with in any manner the conduct of the election or with a member of the precinct board [election board], voter, challenger or watcher, in the performance of his duties.
Whoever disturbs the polling place is guilty of a petty misdemeanor.
A. Electioneering too close to the polling place consists of any form of campaigning within:
(1) one hundred feet of the building in which the polling place is located on election day when voting at a school, church or private residence; and
(2) one hundred feet of the door through which voters may enter to vote at the office of the county clerk, an alternate voting location, a mobile voting site or any location used as a polling place on election day that is not a school, church or private residence.
B. Electioneering includes the display or distribution of signs or campaign literature, campaign buttons, t-shirts, hats, pins or other such items and includes the verbal or electronic solicitation of votes for a candidate or question.
C. Whoever commits electioneering too close to the polling place is guilty of a petty misdemeanor.