The Democratic Party voter protection effort is designed to ensure that every voter eligible to vote can vote and that his or her vote will be counted.
Here’s what you need to know before you head to the polls:
- You have multiple ways to cast your ballot. You are not limited to going to the polls in person on November 6th. Early voting began on October 9th and early voting at expanded locations will begin on October 20th. Any registered New Mexican voter may also request an absentee ballot from their county clerk’s office by November 2nd.
- The vast majority of people do NOT need a photo ID to vote. At the polling location, most registered voters need only state their name, address where they are registered to vote, and birth year. There is no requirement for physical identification for most people, because that evidence was provided at the time of registration.
Only voters who registered by mail, did not provide the required information, and have NOT previously voted in a federal election in New Mexico need provide physical proof of identification. If you fall into this category, visit www.gottavote.com and click the Commit to Plan and Vote tab to find a list of acceptable IDs you can bring.
- If you received a notice from the Secretary of State, that does NOT mean your name has been removed from voter lists. Earlier this year, the Secretary of State sent out a mailing trying to identify whether voters are still active and residing at the address where they’re registered. However, the results of this mailing do not apply to the current election cycle, so it won’t affect your eligibility to vote in any way.
- Even if you are challenged for any reason, you always have the right to cast a provisional ballot. Provisional ballots allow you to vote and allow election workers the time to determine later whether that ballot qualifies and should be counted.
For example, if your name has been left off the voter rolls in error, your provisional ballot will be accepted once the error has been confirmed.
- If you experience any sort of problem at the polls, talk to the appropriate election officials. First, approach the Precinct Board members (1 judge and 2 clerks) who will be present at the polling location.
If you feel you need additional assistance, you can speak to the Democratic poll challenger or third-party poll watchers on site.
Finally, if you still feel like there is an issue preventing you from being able to vote, the Democratic Party of New Mexico and OFA New Mexico will have a phone hotline (in English and Spanish) to help you resolve your issue.
I have always thought that a citizen’s right to vote is important in this country and every eligible voter should be encouraged and be allowed to vote. The more people who vote and are allowed to vote and when the voting process is streamlined, that encourages participation in democracy and investment in the government by the people… and consequently, better qualified and better elected officials and better government.
I hope you’ll make your voice heard this Election and encourage others to do the same. For more information about how and where to vote, please visit www.gottavote.com.
Justin Miller is an attorney in Santa Fe and a vice-chair of the voter protection coordinating committee for President Obama’s grassroots team in New Mexico.