By Steve Hansen
A statewide postcard mailing that originated with the New Mexico secretary of state’s office was intended to encourage voter registration. But it may also encourage foreign nationals, including illegal aliens, to attempt to vote in the November elections, Quay County officials said Friday.
Ellen White, county deputy clerk, said she has heard from foreign nationals in the county who reported receiving the post card.
County Commission Chair Franklin McCasland suggested the system and the post cards may encourage foreign nationals to cast ballots, even though only citizens of the U.S. are allowed to vote in elections.
That is especially true, he said, because New Mexico does not routinely check for identification of voters at polling places.
White said potential voters need only to provide an address and a Social Security number or other identification to be registered, making it relatively easy for an unqualified foreign national to enter the voter rolls.
The postcard mailing, paid for by a grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts and county clerks across the state, was generated by information from the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), a news release from the secretary of state’s office said.
ERIC is a non-profit organization of member states that helps improve the accuracy of voter registration lists and provides information on unregistered potential voters that states can contact, the news release said.
New Mexico recently became the 20th state to join ERIC in an effort to balance voter outreach with voter list maintenance.
White said many voters already registered had told her they received the card. White said that is due to the way the system chose recipients of the post cards.
Kari Fresquez, state elections director in the secretary of state’s office, said “It is certainly possible that non-eligible persons received the post card.”
The computer program that assembled the mailing list, she said, matched the state’s driver’s license holder database against the secretary of state’s voter registration lists to develop the list.
The secretary of state’s office news release also said driver’s license and state ID records may not match up exactly to an existing voter registration record.
Fresquez pointed out that the post cards are not registration forms but encourage potential voters to register online.
The online form, she said, includes a question about whether a voter is a citizen. Lying about citizen status, or committing other voter fraud, she said, is a fourth-degree felony.
White said even though photo identification is not required at polling places, there are other procedures in place that screen for potential voter fraud.
Recipients who believe they received the postcard in error are encouraged to check their voter record online at:
Recipients who have further questions about their voter record may also call the county clerk’s officer or the secretary of state elections division at 1-800-477-3632.
The county clerk’s office may be reached at 575-461-0510.