The Center for Voter Information, a non-profit based in Washington DC, sent out absentee applications to New Mexico voters, which caused confusion.
“There was a mailing that hit Bernalillo County yesterday that came to my attention,” said Bernalillo County Clerk Linda Stover on a Facebook video. “We got several calls at our office. I got several calls on my private phone.”
She said that while the mailing was not officially from the county clerk’s office, it is legitimate, and the application will result in an absentee ballot if sent in.
Santa Fe County Clerk Geraldine Salazar said that the clerk’s office works diligently to prepare for elections, but a situation like this makes it tougher to plan.
“There has been an extensive amount of Election Code and technological changes that affect how we run elections in New Mexico,” she said. “The election process can be overwhelming for election officials especially when we have meticulously planned and prepared for an election in addition to trouble shooting unexpected situations, and we are now confronted with a third party absentee ballot application mailing in our county.”
She said that her office works hard to give voters the correct information they need to get absentee ballots, and this has only toughened their job. Salazar also said that the claims of voter fraud happening with absentee voting have concerned many voters in the county, and her staff is readily available to assist anybody with questions.
In a statement to The Independent, CVI said that they targeted specific voters they deemed “disenfranchised.”
“The Center for Voter Information this month sent nearly 400,000 vote-by-mail applications to voters in New Mexico, particularly those who have historically been disenfranchised,” the statement said. “Our programming is incredibly successful. We have worked with our partner, the Voter Participation Center, to successfully generate more than 900,000 vote-by-mail applications across the country, and helped over 5 million people register to vote in our history.”
When asked how the CVI decides who to send these applications to, the non-profit replied with another statement.
“We send vote-by-mail applications to registered New Mexico voters, many of whom are in the Rising American Electorate—that’s unmarried women, people of color and young voters who historically have been under-represented in U.S. politics,” the statement said.
But Salazar said the mailers from CVI has caused her office to work overtime.
“While technically not illegal, this third party absentee ballot application mailing is a duplication of our efforts and challenging,” she said, adding, “My staff are now required to work overtime to process these third party applications besides all the other duties with deadlines we have been processing.”
Both Salazar and Stover said that applications for absentee ballots will be mailed from the state of New Mexico officially on September 14. In the meantime, people can request absentee ballots at nmvote.org. The last day absentee ballot requests will be accepted is Oct. 20.
Election day is Nov. 3.
Torrance County Clerk Linda Jaramillo did not respond to requests for comment on this story.