Voter Registration – The First Line of Defense

Today’s Clovis New Journal headlines a complaint about a cancelled voter registration. See it here: http://cnjonline.com/2016/09/30/voter-registration-denial-questioned/

Here is the story background:

When government is built by the people, the most basic right and responsibility of the citizen is the right to vote. Voter fraud can have serious consequences, so laws are written to protect society from corruption and criminal takeover. Those who have felony convictions in New Mexico are not eligible to vote unless they have served their sentence and/or met the conditions of the court. Citizenship voting rights are affected by the crimes committed. See the relevant parts of the NM Election Code below:

Voter registration cards are filled out by citizens at the County Clerk’s office or with a Voter Registration Agent (VRA) at any location and then taken to the County Clerk. Cards are all entered into a state database of electors. The database checks for duplicate registrations and other factors affecting eligibility. In this case, the person registering was flagged by the database as an ineligible felon. That card was stamped “felon” and the registration was cancelled. This is the normal and legal process of vetting voter rolls to prevent voter fraud.

When we asked, as a matter of public record, we found that this voter registration was collected by a VRA Angelina Baca, attorney and Curry County Commissioner who is running for District Court Judge. Ms. Baca is one of many VRA’s who work diligently to register voters. The complaint about the cancellation was made by Attorney Dan Lindsey. At this point, he has submitted a request to the County Clerk to obtain the list of names of felons denied registration in the past year. This burden of documentation comes at a time when the Clerk’s office is working to enter more than 600 new registrants before the deadline on October 8.

The Elections Code below shows the process by which a person can restore their right to vote. This process is outlined in the letter sent to the registrant whose registration was cancelled. Meanwhile, the Curry County County Clerk has done her job, and done it well, in providing the first line of defense against potential voter fraud. Thank you Rosalie Riley and staff for your diligence.

From Section 1. A new section of the Election Code:

CANCELLATION OF REGISTRATION FOLLOWING CONVICTION–ELIGIBILITY FOR REGISTRATION UPON SATISFACTION OF CONDITIONS.

A. When a voter has been convicted of a felony, the clerk of the district court where the conviction occurred shall file a certificate of felony conviction with the county clerk of the county where the convicted felon is registered to vote.

B. For purposes of cancellation of registration, verification of a felony conviction may be obtained by comparing the voter’s registration record with the certificate of felony conviction filed by the clerk of the district court.

C. The certificate of felony conviction shall include the voter’s:
(1) name;
(2) age;
(3) sex;
(4) marital status;
(5) birthplace;
(6) birth date;
(7) social security number, if any;
(8) date of conviction; and
(9) address.

D. When a voter convicted of a felony, for which a sentence of imprisonment is authorized but deferred or suspended by order of the court, has completed the conditions of the court order, the clerk of the court shall notify the county clerk of the county where the convicted felon was registered to vote that the person is eligible for registration.

E. When a voter convicted of a felony is unconditionally discharged from a correctional facility under the jurisdiction of the corrections department, or is conditionally discharged from a facility under the jurisdiction of the corrections department and has completed all conditions of probation or parole, the corrections department shall notify the county clerk of the county where the felon was registered to vote that the person is eligible for registration.

F. When a voter convicted of a federal offense constituting a felony is unconditionally discharged from a correctional facility under the jurisdiction of a federal corrections agency, or is conditionally discharged from a correctional facility under the jurisdiction of a federal corrections agency, and has completed all conditions of probation or parole, the federal agency having jurisdiction of that person shall notify the county clerk of the county where the felon was registered to vote that the person is eligible for registration.”

Section 2. Section 31-13-1 NMSA 1978 (being Laws 1963, Chapter 303, Section 29-14) is amended to read:

31-13-1. FELONY CONVICTION–RESTORATION OF CITIZENSHIP.

A. A person who has been convicted of a felony shall not be permitted to vote in any statewide, county, municipal or district election held pursuant to the provisions of the Election Code, unless the person:

(1) has completed the terms of a suspended or deferred sentence imposed by a court;
(2) was unconditionally discharged from a correctional facility under the jurisdiction of the corrections department or was conditionally discharged from a correctional facility under the jurisdiction of the corrections department and has completed all conditions of probation or parole;
(3) was unconditionally discharged from a correctional facility under the jurisdiction of a federal corrections agency or was conditionally discharged from a correctional facility under the jurisdiction of a federal corrections agency and has completed all conditions of probation or parole; or
(4) has presented the governor with a certificate verifying the completion of his sentence and was granted a pardon or a certificate by the governor restoring his full rights of citizenship.

B. A person who has served the entirety of a sentence imposed for a felony conviction, including a term of probation or parole shall, upon his request to the corrections department, be issued a certificate of completion by the corrections department. Presentation of the certificate of completion to a county clerk shall entitle the person to register to vote. Additionally, a county clerk may accept the following documents as proof that a person has served the entirety of his sentence for a felony conviction:

(1) a judgment and sentence from a court of this state, another state or the federal government, which shows on its face that the person has completed the entirety of his sentence; or
(2) a certificate of completion from another state or the federal government.

C. A person who has been convicted of a felony shall not be permitted to hold an office of public trust for the state, a county, a municipality or a district, unless the person has presented the governor with a certificate verifying the completion of his sentence and was granted a pardon or a certificate by the governor restoring his full rights of citizenship.

About Conservative Frontiers

Written by Carolyn Spence, or other authors as shown. Conservative philosophy based on the premise that individual people have special value. The love of God for human kind and for his creation should be the basis of all government - to enable the individual to reach their full potential and to restrict evil from interfering with that process. Each person brings a unique potential to our world. Together we have the ideas, skills, and talents necessary to solve the problems of our day and our tomorrow.
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