New Mexico Senate seeks extra protections for election workers

On Monday, a bill looking for greater protections for election officials and volunteers as concerns for their safety have increased passed unanimously in the New Mexico state Senate.

Several states other than New Mexico are also seeking more protections for election workers after many officials were targets of violent threats after the 2020 presidential election. 

Vermont, Maine, Illinois, and Washington, all of which have Democrat-led state legislatures, have introduced similar bills. In the New Mexico Senate, the legislation from state Sen. Katy Duhigg, a former city clerk for Albuquerque, passed 38-0.

The bill expands the felony crime of intimidation to include those against employees and agents of the secretary of state, as well as county and municipal clerks. Now, the legislation will head to the House for consideration.

By a statute enacted in 1953 in New Mexico, voters and election board members who administer polling places are already offered protection from intimidation. That statute also covers poll watchers and challengers who visit polling sites and note concerns for additional review.

After claims began circling regarding potential widespread election fraud in the 2020 presidential election, threats against election overseers, including secretaries of state, county clerks, and poll workers, began to rise. 

Duhigg indicated that the United States Justice Department instituted a task force last year to fight a rise in the intimidation of those working elections. “That’s not enough,” she said while speaking on the Senate floor Monday, “it’s important that states take action to protect our election professionals and volunteers at all levels so that we can sustain our democracy.”

Duhigg highlighted an instance in which Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver was forced to hide in late 2020 as she received threats that were evidently connected to Iran.




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