N.M. Latinos gear up to protect voting rights

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — “We are here to make sure that each vote is respected and counted,” Claudia Cortez, chair of the New Mexico AFL-CIO Voting Rights Protection Program, told the 15th National Membership Meeting of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) meeting here Aug. 25-28.

In the light of recent Republican Party efforts across the country to intimidate and suppress voter registration, the Voting Rights Protection Program is taking steps to see that this will not happen in New Mexico, Cortez said. Part of this campaign is the printing of 10,000 copies in English and Spanish of a New Mexico Voters Bill of Rights, which spells out the right to vote free of any type of threat or intimidation.

To back up these rights, legal teams will be present on Election Day in all the state’s major precincts to make certain that things move smoothly. A major focus will be on counties in southern New Mexico such as Chavez and Otero counties, where there have already been attempts by Republican county clerks to intimidate new voters by asking them to show photo IDs prior to being allowed to cast their ballots.

Some 30,000 new registrations have come in to Albuquerque’s Bernalillo County. County Clerk Mary Herrera said her office is receiving about 1,000 a day. As a result, part-time clerks are working overtime to process all the forms in time for the November elections.

All new voters across the state, both union and nonunion, are being encouraged to make certain that on Election Day they have some form of photo ID with them so as to assure being able to vote. Voters are also being asked to make use of absentee ballots and early voting. In conjunction with community groups, such as Revisioning NM, SouthWest Organizing Project, League of Conservation Voters, NARAL, and Sierra Club, teams of canvassers are planning to knock on doors to get out the vote Nov.2.

The author can be reached at shawemil@msn.com.