Inside the Capitol

Sunday, June 19, 2011

6-22 Why make a criminal case out of it?

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- How is the state Department of Public Safety going to find the time and money to investigate the 64,000 possible cases of voter fraud referred to it by New Mexico Secretary of State Dianna Duran?
With state budgets being slashed by the last several legislative sessions, doesn't it seem logical that the state police Special Investigations Division has more important cases to handle?
For years, Republicans have worried that Democrats win elections by cheating. The cheating involves disappearing ballots, ballot boxes that suddenly appear when they are needed or long lines of voters at the polls, with a dollar bill or half-pint of whiskey in their pockets.
Of course, those long lines of voters could cast their ballots in any manner they want after they get in the voting booth. Although there are stories about people swearing they voted for the candidate of the Democratic precinct boss' choosing, only to have that precinct tally show no votes for the candidate.
There even is one story about a school superintendent telling a poll worker that he couldn't read so he needed to take the Democratic precinct chairman into the voting booth with him.
Invariably these stories involve Hispanics. And naturally many assume that with 12 million illegals said to be in the United States, that some of those Hispanics are illegals.
But how likely is that? In New Mexico, voting illegally is a fourth-degree felony. That gets a person thrown in jail where it is likely one's citizenship will be discovered. That means more jail time followed by deportation.
So how much effort are Democratic politicos going to put into recruiting illegals to register and to vote? There are better waters to drop one's hook in.
But New Mexico Republicans figure with all that smoke, there must be fire somewhere. So they have long advocated for voter identification at the polls. Democrats have long opposed voter ID so Republicans figure they must be up to something.
Since Republicans never had any luck getting their voter ID legislation through Democratic legislatures, they looked for other avenues to prove it is needed.
When George W. Bush became president, they let U.S. Attorney David Iglesias know voter fraud should be a priority. Iglesias says he looked hard, found little and could prove even less. That and the failure to get Manny Aragon indicted before the 2006 general election are alleged to be the reasons he was fired.
Similar pressures surely are being put on Dianna Duran. As secretary of state she testified to the Legislature that a cross-check of voter registration with a state Motor Vehicle Division database, revealed that 117 foreign nationals have registered to vote and at least 37 actually voted.
No problems with credibility there. But now she has sent 64,000 suspicious voter registrations to the state police. My guess is that Duran is being pressured from somewhere, just as Iglesias was.
This is not the Dianna Duran I have known as an efficient Otero County Clerk and respected state senator for many years. But her action in this instance is difficult to understand.
The 64,000 registration forms with discrepancies must be mostly attributable to clerical errors, errors filling out the forms or illegible handwriting. So why weren't they referred to county clerks for cleaning up?
Is it because most of them are Democrats and therefore can't be trusted? Is it because the Public Safety Department is under a Republican governor?
We've recently learned that state police have computer programs that search for patterns that could suggest suspicious activity within the 64,000 files.
If that is the case, why doesn't the secretary of state use those programs to analyze the 64,000 files? If no one in that office has the expertise, why not go to the Information Technology Department instead of making a criminal case out of it? There is still more to learn.
WED, 6-22-11

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)



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