ANSWERS TO FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
The New Mexico Certificate of Registration Form ("New Mexico Form") is available at any county clerk's office, the Office of the Secretary of State, or many state agencies that serve specific clients at those offices such as motor vehicle offices (Section 1-4-5.1, 1-4-5.2, NMSA 1978).
A voter or organization may request the New Mexico form by mail, telephone, or in person. The New Mexico form is on cardstock, is a permanent record and is not available online. It may not be duplicated. The National Voter Registration Form ("National Form") is available online at www.fec.gov. This form may be downloaded or duplicated by any voter or organization.
Individuals or groups conducting voter registration drives may use either form. Once a form is filled out, individuals or groups cannot copy, convey or use the information on the form (Section 1-4-5 (E), NMSA 1978). The form must be promptly delivered to either the Secretary of State or the proper county clerk's office. The Secretary of State will send completed forms to the appropriate county clerk.
Once the county clerk has accepted the form for filing, individuals or groups may make a public records request. However, certain information on the form is always privacy protected (Section 1-4-12 (C), NMSA 1978).
Do I need to present identification when I register to vote? Yes.
What identification do I need to provide? As used in the Election Code, "required voter identification' forms of identification as chosen by the voter:
- (A) a physical form of identification, which may be:
- (1) an original or copy of a current and valid photo identification with or without an address, which address is not required to match the voter's certificate of registration or a voter identification card: or
- (2) an original or copy of a utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, student identification card or other government document, including identification issued by an Indian nation, tribe or pueblo, that shows the name and address of the person, the address of which is not required to match the voter's certificate of registration; or
- (B) a verbal or written statement by the voter of the voter's name, year of birth and unique identifier; provided, however, that the statement of the voter's name need not contain the voter's middle initial or suffix. If a voter fails to provide the required voter identification, the voter shall be allowed to vote on a provisional ballot. Each application for an absentee ballot shall be subscribed by the applicant and shall require the applicant's printed name, year of birth and unique identifier to be supplied by the applicant, which shall constitute the required form of identification. A first time registrant who submits the registration by mail may only use options under (A)(1) and (A)(2).
When does voter registration close? Voter registration closes 28 days prior to an election. (Section 1-4-8 (A)(1),(6) NMSA 1978) Hand delivered voter registrations, delivered directly to the county clerk, may be delivered until the Friday after the close of registration. (Section1-4-5.1 (E) and 1-4-8 (A)(6), NMSA 1978) Close of registration via facsimile or scanned document (only for military and overseas voters) (Section 1-4-8 (B)).
Do I need to register for every election? No, registration is permanent in New Mexico as long as you do not move, change your name or party affiliation.
Do I need to change my registration if I move? Even if I move to a different address in the same city? Yes, if you do not change your address, a postcard will be mailed to your old address to confirm that you have moved. If you do not respond, your voter registration will be cancelled if you do not re-register or if you do not appear to vote in any election within four years. (PL 103-31). You also need to change your voter registration if you change your name or want to change your party affiliation.
How do I request an absentee ballot? A voter may request an absentee ballot from the New Mexico Absentee Ballot Application or the Federal Postcard ballot application for military and overseas voters (Section 1B6-4 (A)(B), NMSA 1978). If a military or overseas voter submits the Federal Postcard registration form, it also acts as an absentee request form. The New Mexico Absentee Ballot Application is available at any county clerk's office. A voter or organization may request the New Mexico Absentee Ballot Application by mail, telephone, or in person. However, the information on the form may not be altered or re-arranged (NMSA 1-6-4 (B)). The Federal Postcard absentee ballot application ("Federal Absentee Application") is available at www.fvap.gov/pubs/onlinefpca.html. Military personnel should also contact their Voting Assistance Officer for additional information. The voter must complete the application on their own (Section 1-6-4 (C), NMSA 1978).
What is the deadline to request an absentee ballot? The county clerk must receive the New Mexico Absentee Ballot Application no later than 5:00 p.m. on, and Thursday, October 30, 2008 for the General Election (Section 1-6-5 (H), NMSA 1978). The county clerk must either mail the ballot or notify the voter why the application was not accepted within 24 hours of receipt of the application. (Section 1-6-6(B), NMSA 1978) The county clerk must receive the Federal Absentee Application by facsimile or scanned document no later than Friday, October 31, 2008 for the General Election. (Section 1-4-8, NMSA 1978)
If I apply for an absentee ballot and receive it, can I change my mind and vote at my polling place on Election Day? No. If you apply for an absentee ballot and receive it, you must vote that ballot. You will not be issued another ballot if the original ballot is destroyed, discarded or delivered to the polls unvoted (Section 1-6-16 (A), NMSA 1978).
What if I do not receive my absentee ballot? If you apply for, but do not receive the absentee ballot, you may go to the county clerk's office Monday, November 3, 2008 for the General Election, and apply for a replacement ballot (Section 1-6-16 (A), NMSA 1978).
You may also go to your polling place and vote on a paper ballot, in lieu of an absentee ballot on Election Day (Section 1-6-16.1 (A), NMSA 1978). You will be required to sign a sworn statement, under penalty of perjury, that you did not receive your ballot.
What about military and overseas voters? If you are a military or overseas voter, you may transmit your absentee ballot by facsimile or scanned document to your county clerk. You must sign and transmit a waiver of secrecy form that will be provided by the county clerk (Section 1-6-4.1 (D), NMSA 1978). For more information please go to: http://www.fvap.gov/
Who can take the absentee ballot back to the county clerk? A member of your immediate family or your caregiver may hand-deliver your absentee ballot. An unrelated third party may not deliver another voter's absentee ballot (Section 1-6-10.1, NMSA 1978).
When does an absentee ballot have to be returned for it to be counted? Ballots must be returned to the county clerk or voter's precinct before 7:00 p.m. on Election Day to be counted (Section 1-6-10 (B), NMSA 1978).
What about Early Voting? You may also vote early in-person, instead of voting by mail. You may go to your county clerk's office beginning the 28th day before the election and vote on either a paper ballot or electronic voting machine. (Section 1-6-5, NMSA 1978). Early voting begins on the third Saturday before the election at alternate sites. Call your county clerk for locations. Alternate sites for early voting are open from 12:00 Noon until 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The sites are open from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. on Saturdays. They are closed on Sunday and Monday. Early voting ends the Saturday before the election.
What kind of ballots and voting systems are used in New Mexico? New Mexico uses paper ballots that are scanned on an electronic optical scanning system for absentee voting. Counties may also use optical scan systems for early voting. Some counties use optical scan systems for election day voting. Other models of electronic voting systems are used for early voting and precinct voting on election day. See link to voting systems for the type of voting system in use in your county.
What if I do not want to vote on an electronic voting machine? If you do not want to vote on an electronic voting machine, you may vote with an absentee ballot, which is a paper ballot. Absentee ballots are counted on an electronic scanning voting system that tabulates ballots. If you choose to go to the polls on election day, you will not be issued a paper ballot except for the reasons allowed in the Election Code.
When does a voter get an emergency paper ballot? Emergency paper ballots are issued at the polling place only when a voting system becomes disabled and cannot be repaired in a reasonable length of time and there are no other voting machines available for substitution (Section 1-12-13 C.,NMSA 1978).
When does a voter get a provisional ballot? You will be issued a provisional ballot if your name does not appear on the roster at your polling place or if you are a first time voter who registered by mail and do not provide the required identification (Section 1-12-8 (A) (B), NMSA 1978).
What is an alternative ballot? If you become ill after the period for absentee balloting and are unable to go to the polls, you may request a ballot in writing. Your request must also be signed by your health care provider. Your ballot will be given to the person who presented the request to the county clerk and shall be returned by the same person (Section 1-6-16.2, NMSA 1978).
What if I need help in voting? Who can help me with my ballot? You may request assistance in voting at the polls if you are blind, physically disabled, unable to read or write or a member of a language minority (Section 1-12-12, NMSA 1978). Any person of your choice may assist you, except your employer, an agent of the employer, an officer or agent of your union, or a candidate whose name is on the ballot (Section 1-12-15, NMSA 1978).
For more information, contact the Bureau of Elections, Office of the Secretary of State at: (505) 827-3600 or (800) 477-3632 or by E-mail