26 January 2022

Sec. of State Contact:
Alex Curtas, Director of Communications
New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office

UNM Contact:
Rachel Whitt, Communications Representative
The University of New Mexico

Secretary of State, UNM Release 2020 Election Report on Voter Attitudes, Election Reforms

Data Provides Insight into How Voters Experienced the 2020 General Election

SANTA FE – Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver and The University of New Mexico’s Department of Political Science presented findings from the “2020 New Mexico Election Administration, Voter Security, and Election Reform Report” during a virtual press conference today. The report “represents a systematic examination of voter attitudes and experience with the [2020] election, concerns about election security, and preferences for election reforms” (p. 15).

“The data we get from these reports is essential for gauging voters’ attitudes about their voting experiences and their perceptions of election administration in New Mexico,” said Secretary Toulouse Oliver. “But this isn’t just an academic exercise. The data helps my Office and election administrators across New Mexico understand how voters are thinking, what’s working, and what needs improvement in the eyes of the customers we serve. I thank the report’s authors, professors Lonna Atkeson and Wendy L. Hansen, and the entire UNM team for their great work on producing this study.”

Secretary Toulouse Oliver was joined today by Professor Lonna Atkeson, a principal author of the report.

“Considering the national conversation on voter privacy that’s been ongoing since 2016, we expanded this year’s survey to include questions on perceptions of ballot privacy and incidences of voter coercion,” said Professor Atkeson. “It’s a great example of why these comparative reports are important. We gain insight on current elections; and better understand the concerns facing voters regarding future elections. Comparing data across elections broadens the scope of our perspective on election protocol.”

The “2020 New Mexico Election Administration, Voter Security, and Election Reform Report” was produced by The University of New Mexico’s Department of Political Science with assistance from the Secretary of State’s Office using funds from the Help America Vote Act. This is the eighth iteration of UNM’s post-election report, which makes this effort unmatched among other states and election jurisdictions. As quoted in the report itself, “To our knowledge, no other state or election jurisdiction has had this kind of sustained and independent scrutiny over multiple elections” (p. 17).

Some key findings detailed in the report include (taken from the Executive Summary):

  • The 2020 General Election saw the largest voter turnout in recent New Mexico history, with a total statewide turnout of 69.7%. (p. 5)
    • 35% of 2020 voters voted by mail (absentee); 49% voted early in-person; 16% voted on Election Day.
  • Vote-by-mail saw a major increase during 2020, jumping up to 35% of total voters from an average of 10% in the last several elections. (p. 6)
    • About three-fifths (59%) of vote-by-mail requests were completed online using the Secretary of State’s online system.
  • Election officials and volunteer poll workers in New Mexico received high marks from voters, especially in light of COVID-19 protocols that were in effect at every polling place. (p. 7)
    • 94% of voters thought poll workers were helpful.
    • 96% of voters felt safe when voting in-person.
    • 99% of voters thought their polling place was easy to find.
  • A majority of voters are confident in the way elections are run and are confident in official election outcomes, but many misinformed beliefs about election administration remain. (p. 8-9)
    • About three in four voters (77%) were very or somewhat confident their vote was correctly counted. A majority (70%) of voters were confident in state-level results, though voters were least confident of national results, with only 59% indicating they were very or somewhat confident in national results.
    • Voter confidence tracks with partisan divides, with Democrats expressing higher levels of confidence than Republicans. 
    • Voter confidence is improved with positive individual experiences, like encountering helpful poll workers or having positive interactions with the Secretary of State’s office or county clerks. 

A copy of the report can be found on the Secretary of State’s website here.