SOS won’t say if 17-year olds will be able to vote in primaries

The New Mexico Secretary of State’s office is not saying much about whether some 17-year-olds will be able to vote in the upcoming New Mexico primary elections. During the 2016 legislative session, a bill passed that allows those who will turn 18 before the general election to participate in primary elections. Gov. Susana Martinez signed the bill into law following the session. Still, it is unclear whether the Secretary of State’s office will be ready to accept votes from that age group during the primary on June 7. The Secretary of State’s Chief of Staff Ken Ortiz told NM Political Report in an email that the office is “exploring the legal options to assure the law is implemented appropriately.”

He did not provide an answer to a direct question on whether 17-year-olds would be able to vote in the upcoming primaries.

Here’s why candidates were disqualified from the ballot

Friday marked the final day to challenge filing documents for candidates around the state ahead of the June primaries. In all,  the reasons for ten disqualifications for candidates range from simply not getting enough signatures to breaking campaign finance rules. Amy Bailey, legal counsel for the Secretary of State’s office, told NM Political Report that her office went through any evidence brought to them before each candidate was qualified. “The candidates that brought us what they purported to be evidence we checked,” Bailey said. “We didn’t go through and check all the petitions.”

Prospective candidates who found themselves disqualified still have a chance to challenge the disqualification, but they must file a challenge it in district court.

Sandra Jeff disqualified from the ballot

The Secretary of State disqualified former State Rep. Sandra Jeff from the ballot for the Democratic primary in Senate District 22. A spokesman for the Secretary of State’s office confirmed via email Wednesday afternoon that Jeff was disqualified from the ballot “due to noncompliance with the Campaign Reporting Act.”

Amy Bailey, the general counsel of the department, later added more information. “I need to review the file for specifics, but the noncompliance is associated with reports which were due in past filing periods and the fines associated with those past issues,” Bailey said in an email. Jeff said in a phone interview on Wednesday that she was aware and was deciding whether or not to contest the disqualification. She described herself as undecided on whether or not to continue her run for State Senate.

Senate panel OKs two bills to fix campaign finance problems

Two campaign ethics bills moved forward from a Senate panel on Monday as the end of the legislative session neared. The Senate Rules Committee passed both bills, but they received very different receptions. Sen. Lee Cotter, R-Las Cruces, had a bill that would give the Secretary of State’s office access to campaign banking records to better accomplish audits. “It allows the Secretary of State to go into my account, your accounts, and check what the checks were written for and how the deposits were without getting a court order,” Cotter said. The proposal passed with no recommendation after Senators expressed concerns that it would provide access to campaign banking records by political appointees in the Secretary of State’s office.

Dianna Duran’s downfall is our top story of the year

It would be very hard for the saga of Dianna Duran not to be number one this year, even before she went to jail. We are counted down the top ten stories through the end of the year with expanded recaps or personal recollections from the three members of the team. Previous: Stories 10-6. Number 5. Number 4.

Winter: Will resign if he can’t handle both SoS, city council jobs

Newly appointed Secretary of State and veteran Albuquerque City Councilor Brad Winter is asking for a chance to pull double duty. If his constituency deems him unfit to hold both positions, he will resign as councilor, he said on Thursday. “If I ever feel that I’m shortchanging either office, I will resign from city council,” Winter told NM Political Report. After Gov. Susana Martinez appointed Winter to the office of Secretary of State earlier this week, some speculated that he would resign from his position as City Councilor. When Winter announced he would hold both positions, questions of whether he could handle both jobs started to circulate.

Source: Toulouse Oliver running for SOS

There haven’t been any official announcements since Maggie Toulouse Oliver said she was exploring a run, but a source close to her tells NM Political Report that she’s “all in” for a run for Secretary of State in 2016. The Bernalillo County Clerk was the Democratic nominee for the position in 2014, where she lost to incumbent Dianna Duran 51.6 percent to 48.4 percent. The source told NM Political Report about Toulouse Oliver’s plans on Tuesday, just after Gov. Susana Martinez named Brad Winter as the replacement Secretary of State. According to Martinez’s announcement, Winter will not run in 2016 and will only serve until January 1, 2017. The news that Toulouse Oliver will be taking another run at the position is no surprise.

New proposed rules would implement online registration

There still isn’t a permanent Secretary of State more than a month after the resignation of Dianna Duran, but the office scheduled a public review of proposed rule changes for later this month. The proposed rule changes will be discussed at a public hearing on December 29; the rules are required to go into effect by the beginning of 2016. This year, Gov. Susana Martinez signed a bill requiring the Secretary of State to start allowing online updates to existing voter registrations by the beginning of the year allow for online of new voter registrations by the beginning of July 1, 2017. Secretary of State Chief of Staff Ken Ortiz said that a lack of a permanent Secretary of State is no barrier to implementing the rule changes. “The Office of Secretary of State has an Acting Secretary, Mary Quintana who is in charge and leading the office, including the rule-making process,” Ortiz told NM Political Report in an emailed statement. “Given the strict timeframes established by the election code, Acting Secretary Quintana believes it is in the best interests of all voters and citizens that the process continue to move forward.”

Overhaul needed to fix campaign finance system

Maggie Toulouse Oliver is the Bernalillo County Clerk and was the Democratic nominee for Secretary of State in 2014. Recent reports continue to highlight incidents that blatantly violate the spirit–if not the actual letter of the law–of campaign finance disclosure that the people of New Mexico expect and deserve from their public officials. For too long we have placed trust in politicians that promise change and reform, but fail to deliver.  It’s time to end the half-measures and double-talk around this issue. As a state, we must demand full transparency and accountability.

Former SOS Vigil wants another crack at the position

While it’s highly unlikely that Gov. Susana Martinez will choose Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver to be the next Secretary of State in New Mexico, a former Secretary of State is likely even more of a longshot—but she applied for the position anyway. The Albuquerque Journal reported that former Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil (known as Vigil-Giron when she was Secretary of State) applied to replace Dianna Duran. Other names included former State Reps. Sandra Jeff and Janice Arnold-Jones as well as former Albuquerque City Clerk and current Secretary of State employee Amy Bailey. Oliver publicly announced her application for the position late last month.