Secretary of State and Attorney General Issue Advisory on Poll Monitoring and Voter Intimidation
Note: The City is sharing this information in partnership with the New Mexico Attorney General's Office and the New Mexico Secretary of State's Office.
Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver and New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas issued a voter information advisory Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022, to make clear that intimidating or interfering with voters is illegal. The voter information advisory provides voters, the media, and the general public with important information and resources about the General Election and reminds voters that their right to vote safely and free from intimidation, harassment, or coercion is protected under federal and state law.
“Clear information about how to vote and what to expect when voting is essential to increasing voter confidence in our elections,” said Secretary Toulouse Oliver. “My office partnered with the Attorney General on this advisory to ensure the public understands the many ways New Mexicans can cast their ballot and the many safeguards in place that protect our votes.”
“Citizens have a right to freely participate in elections without harassment and intimidation, and my office will take any actions necessary to uphold the law,” said Attorney General Balderas.
The advisory outlines the state and federal laws that have long protected against election interference and voter intimidation and offers the following:
- State law prohibits intimidation of voters and interference with elections officers by anyone, including law enforcement officers and private citizens. Violations of the law are punishable by fines or imprisonment. State law also requires that local police officers be present at polling places to assist local election officials and to perform other functions to ensure that voters are not obstructed from voting. Police officers working at election sites are generally barred from entering the immediate voting area, unless requested to assist by the chief election official at a polling place.
- There are permissible forms of election observation and monitoring. New Mexico law provides that elections must be conducted in a manner that is open to public observation. Poll observers are allowed inside the polling place, unless they are disorderly or obstruct the access of voters. The Voting Rights Act permits federal observers to monitor voting conditions in certain eligible jurisdictions to ensure the right to vote is protected. Poll watchers may observe polling place operations, but under no circumstances can they intimidate, threaten, coerce, or otherwise interfere with a voter’s right to cast a ballot.
- The law prohibits private citizens from intimidating voters at the polls. A number of federal and state laws prohibit private actors from engaging in voter intimidation. These laws serve to protect against intimidation, threats, or coercion when citizens are casting votes for the candidate of their choice. A non-exclusive list of conduct that may constitute impermissible voter intimidation which interferes with a citizen’s right to vote includes verbal or physical confrontations, a request for documentation where none is required, following or otherwise harassing a voter, using threatening language, challenging a voter for the purpose of intimidation, or otherwise acting in an intimidating manner.
Further information regarding voter registration and voting procedures in New Mexico can be found on the Secretary of State’s voter information portal NMVOTE.ORG.
Attorney General Balderas has made voter protection and election integrity a priority of his office and encourages New Mexicans to be vigilant. If someone interferes with your right to vote through threats, intimidation, or coercion, or you become aware of any interference with the right of New Mexicans to vote, please contact the Attorney General’s Office at 1-844-255-9210 or file a complaint at nmag.gov. If you need emergency assistance, dial 911 or contact your local police department. Any violation of state law in connection with the election will be assigned to a state prosecution unit and any federal violation will be referred to the FBI.
A copy of the Voter Guide can be seen here.