31 March 2020

Alex Curtas, Director of Communications
New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office

Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver Supports the Collaborative Effort Between New Mexico’s County Clerks and her Office to Conduct an All-Mail 2020 Primary Election 

SANTA FE – Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver is providing clarification to New Mexicans about how election administrators are preparing for an all-mail primary election in June, following news reports about the state’s County Clerks petitioning the state Supreme Court to allow for an all-mail election.

“I want to make sure New Mexicans know that the entire reason for asking the state Supreme Court to allow the state’s election administrators to conduct an all-mail 2020 Primary Election is to protect the health and safety of every voter wishing to participate,” said Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver. “My Office and the state’s County Clerks are prepared to conduct an all-mail election in June and we will make it easy for every eligible voter to participate.”

As the state’s chief election officer, Secretary Toulouse Oliver worked collaboratively with the state’s County Clerks to petition the Supreme Court to allow for an all-mail June Primary Election. This request of the court is part of a contingency planning strategy that the state’s election administrators have been working on since before the first cases of COVID-19 appeared in New Mexico. Secretary Toulouse Oliver’s primary goal is protecting the health and safety of all New Mexicans while they exercise their civic duty to vote in this year’s elections. Conducting the 2020 Primary Election by mail is the best way to protect both the health and the rights of voters.

It’s important for the public to understand that the current request of the state Supreme Court will not create any new laws but will, instead, allow election administrators to apply existing provisions of the state Election Code (that already require all special elections to be conducted entirely by mail) for this specific circumstance of the 2020 Primary Election.

Secretary Toulouse Oliver is hopeful the state Supreme Court will grant the request for an all-mail 2020 Primary Election in a timely manner in order to protect the health and safety of voters and give the state’s election administrators the legal authority they need to do so. 

If the court grants the request, this is what voters can expect in the weeks ahead:

  • An absentee ballot will be mailed to every eligible major party voter in the state, except those voters who have had official mail from the Secretary of State or a county clerk returned as undeliverable, or any voter who has a National Change of Address form on file with the US Postal Service. NOTE: New Mexico has a closed-primary system and only members of the Democratic, Republican, or Libertarian parties can vote in the Primary Election).
  • In-person “Voter Service Centers” will be provided to voters to utilize for specific circumstances, such as requiring assistance because of a disability or a language barrier, to drop off a ballot or request a replacement ballot, or to register to vote or to update certain information on an existing voter registration.
  • Notification postcards alerting voters of the change in the election process for the Primary will be sent to every eligible voter except those with mailing address issues as noted above.

Because of the fluidity of the COVID-19 situation, Secretary Toulouse Oliver and the state’s election administrators have had to respond quickly to the changing circumstances. Before this week’s request of the court, the Secretary of State’s Office had been encouraging voters to utilize an absentee ballot as a way to practice social distancing while also participating in their democracy. Because of proactive, pro-voter measures already in place in New Mexico – like the use of online voter registration, automated voter registration, and our participation in the Electronic Registration Information Center – the state’s voter rolls are significantly more accurate than ever before, which ensures New Mexico election officials are well positioned to provide mail-in ballots for all eligible major party voters for the June primary.

In addition to this week’s request to the state Supreme Court, the Secretary of State opened the state’s online absentee portal a month earlier than usual to encourage voters to apply and has been working with County Clerks to bolster their capacity for processing mail-in ballots. 


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