May 16, 2020

Secretary of State encourages absentee voting

Olivia Harlow/The New Mexican

Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver reminds the public of ways they can vote in the upcoming primary election. She encouraged folks to fill out an absentee ballot and to only vote at polls if absolutely necessary.

Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver encouraged all voters who wish to participate in the primaries to do so by absentee ballot.

Toulouse Oliver spoke at a press conference on Friday, and noted that this election season is different than those in the past. 

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“For me, this would normally be a time as we are going into the early voting period here in New Mexico where I’d be extremely excited and say everyone should turn out in robust fashion to their early voting location,” Toulouse Oliver said.

But she said that, given the COVID-19 pandemic, everyone who is eligible “Should be planning on voting from home.”

The state already sent out absentee voter applications to every registered, eligible voter; in New Mexico only those who are members of major political parties can vote in primary elections. Those are the Democratic, Libertarian and Republican parties.

Already, Toulouse Oliver said, nearly 130,000 voters have applied to receive absentee ballots.

Everyone who is able to do so should, to protect not only themselves, but also the general public and poll workers.

“Eighty percent of poll workers in New Mexico are over the age of 60,” Toulouse Oliver said. Those over the age of 65 are considered by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to be at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

Polling places will remain open, however. She said those who have disabilities and need help, or those who need translation services are the types of people who should use early in-person voting or election day polling locations.

Voters who do choose to vote in person will be asked to wear masks, Toulouse Oliver said. If a voter does not have a mask, she said poll workers would provide them with one.

Poll workers will be ready, and will be provided N95 masks, high quality masks that are more protective than homemade cloth masks, and will disinfect any surface after it is touched by someone. Voters will be provided with disinfected or unused pens to fill out their ballots.

All absentee ballots must arrive at the county clerk’s office or a polling location by 7 p.m. on June 2. Any ballot that arrives after that time will not be counted.

In addition to mailing in absentee ballots, voters can drop off the completed ballot at a polling location or county clerk’s office.

Toulouse Oliver and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham each said they requested absentee ballots for the primary election.