FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
2 March 2022
Sec. of State Contact:
Alex Curtas, Director of Communications
New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office
Attorney General Contact:
Director of Communications & Legislative Affairs
Secretary of State and Attorney General Issue Voter Risk Advisory After Problematic Reports Emerge About Otero County Election Audit; Hotline Available to Voters
SANTA FE – Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver and Attorney General Hector Balderas released information today reminding New Mexican voters about their rights to privacy after problematic reports have emerged as a third-party election “audit” is being conducted in Otero County.
The Otero County Commission recently authorized a controversial “audit” of the 2020 election to be conducted by a third-party organization called New Mexico Audit Force. Part of the New Mexico Audit Force’s activities involve deploying canvassers to go door-to-door throughout Otero County interrogating voters about their personal information and their participation in the 2020 General Election.
This activity has caught many Otero County residents off guard as they are being approached at their doorsteps by New Mexico Audit Force canvassers who are not employed by Otero County, yet who are claiming to be representatives of the county. According to the Otero County Attorney, these canvassers have not been subjected to any background checks and according to Erin Clements, director of the New Mexico Audit force, when speaking to the Otero County Commission, “We would introduce ourselves as ‘New Mexico Audit Force’ and not mention the county at all.” There are estimated to be about 60 canvassers currently in Otero County.
Voters in Otero County and across New Mexico should be aware of their rights regarding the privacy of their ballots and their voter information. Here are some things voters should know about their rights and about voter protections New Mexico already has in place:
- Who you vote for on your ballot is secret. No one, not even election administrators, can tell what your ballot choices were in any election.
- Through limited publicly-available voter data, it is possible to tell your party affiliation (or lack thereof) and if you voted in a particular election. This data can only be obtained by certain groups, like academic organizations and political parties. The New Mexico Audit Force is not one of these specified groups and has not obtained New Mexico voter data from our office. But, again, your specific ballot choices are always secret.
- You are not required (nor can you be compelled) to provide information about who you voted for, why you voted, any personal information, or what your voting experience was like to anyone.
- You are not required to participate in this so-called “audit” or provide any information unless you choose to do so.
- New Mexico’s county clerks and Secretary of State already have mandatory vote count verification and election audit procedures in place after every election to ensure the accuracy of election results. New Mexico also uses 100% paper ballots in every election and voting machines are never connected to the internet.
The Secretary of State’s Office and the Office of the Attorney General take reports of voter intimidation and harassment seriously. If you or someone you know has been harassed or intimidated during this ongoing canvassing in Otero County, contact the Office of the Attorney General at 1-844-255-9210 or file a complaint online through the Attorney General’s website.