Gov. Martinez Sued Again in State Supreme Court

Gov. Susana Martinez

By Tracy Dingmann

The head of the state Worker’s Compensation Administration has filed suit against Gov. Susana Martinez in state Supreme Court, saying she is breaking state law by attempting to remove him from office before the expiration of his five-year statutory term.

In a suit filed Jan. 14, Albuquerque attorney Glenn R. Smith says Gov. Martinez has no authority as governor to remove him from office before his term ends in January 2012.

Smith, a former Deputy Attorney General and special counsel to the Attorney General, has been director of the Worker’s Compensation Administration since Gov. Bill Richardson appointed him to the position in January of 2007. He was confirmed by the state legislature.

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New Mexico’s Environment: And You Thought It Couldn’t Get Worse?

By Tracy Dingmann

The race to drag New Mexico to the bottom of the environmental heap continued today as Gov. Susana Martinez nominated former astronaut and current global warming skeptic Harrison Schmitt to head the state’s Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department.

Just how bad a pick is that for someone who – if he’s confirmed by the Legislature – would head the state department in charge of mining and minerals, oil conservation and energy conservation management?

Let’s look at some facts:

In 2009, Schmitt, a former U.S. Senator from Silver City, declared that global warming is more likely caused by natural events rather than by anything done by man.

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Environmental Rollback, Gov. Martinez Style

By Tracy Dingmann

“But you knew she was comin’!”

That’s one of my favorite lines from an otherwise forgettable movie by Spike Lee, uttered by a character played by Ruby Dee to her husband when he expresses surprise and walks out after being offended by a dinner guest he invited to his table.

I thought about this line when I heard about the swift actions of new Governor Susana Martinez, who – as promised – has spent her first couple of days in office dismantling or putting on hold a number of key environmental decisions made during the Richardson administration.

Those of us New Mexicans who care about the environment and who know we need to regulate corporations to keep them from befouling our state all knew this was gonna happen, but it still doesn’t ease the offense.

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An Election Report From Campus

Clearly New Mexico

In this Clearly video extra, New Mexico Public Interest Research Group advocate Erin Eccleston talks about her groups efforts to engage and involve students in voting yesterday at the University of New Mexico.

We at the Center for Civic Policy are proud and excited to work with Student PIRGS, because getting and keeping young people civically engaged is critically important!

A word of caution – the visual aspect of the video is a bit blurry….but the audio is good and the message is inspiring!

Former Candidate Targets Voters in District 21 Race

By Tracy Dingmann

Precinct judge Debbie Hunter says she’s writing up an affidavit for a formal complaint to file with the Secretary of State’s office over a man who stood outside the Manzano High School polling place questioning voters on Election Day.

A number of voters at the District 21 polling place complained that the man, who wore a shirt bearing the name of District 21 Republican candidate Antoinette Baca, had harassed and intimidated them as they arrived to vote throughout the day.

Baca is running against longtime Democratic incumbent Mimi Stewart.

Hunter and other precinct judges said the man identified himself as Howard De La Cruz Bancroft. Bancroft, a Republican, ran unsuccessfully against Stewart in 2008.

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Voter Intimidation at Manzano High School

By Tracy Dingmann

Investigators from the Attorney General’s office responded to Manzano High School after voters told poll workers they felt intimidated and harassed by supporters of District 21 candidate Antoinette Baca outside the Precinct 550 polling place there today.

Albuquerque Police were also called at one point during the hours-long confrontation, which was still going on as of late this afternoon.

Precinct Judge Debbie Hunter, a Republican, said the trouble started at 6 a.m. when one of the Baca supporters “got up in my face” after she started removing Baca campaign signs he had placed inside the 100 foot “no campaigning” barrier.

He said, “Do you know it’s a 4th degree felony to damage campaign signs?” Hunter said.

“I said, `Do you know it’s inappropriate for you to have these signs within the 100-foot barrier?’”

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NM Election Roundup: Less Than 2 Hours To Go

Election Day 2010 seems to be rolling along smoothly in New Mexico Reporters are reflecting on past elections and checking in on poll site activities across the state.

Here’s a sampling:

Early voting in New Mexico ended on Saturday and the numbers show that statewide early and absentee voter turnout is up from our last midterm election in 2006. Steve Terrell has the details on increased early and absentee voter turnout in Santa Fe.

Overall, election officials and veteran pollsters are predicting that turnout may top 60%, which is up from 52% four years ago.

Save for a few minor incidents, current reports show that voting lines and poll site activities across the state are moving along slow and steady.

One of the more interesting pieces of poll site news is boiling up from down south. In Dona Ana County, Republican poll challengers have been “reprimanded” for “acting inappropriately” at 6 different poll locations. The New Mexico Independent reports:

“There have been incidents at six precincts,” Chief Deputy Clerk Jimenez said. “At three locations, gentlemen were trying to handle voters’ ballots. At one, he was hovering by the scanner machine and took ballots, and then he — the challenger — placed ballots into the scanner for the voters. …At one location, Tom Baugh Elementary, a challenger was attempting to assist voters. Challengers are not allowed to act as poll workers like that.”

At other precincts, poll challenger repeatedly demanded that poll workers require photo identification from voters, Jimenez said

“They were disruptive and extremely rude,” Jimenez said. “They told poll workers that they had to take ID from voters.”

Apparently matters escalated to the point that police were called to remove disruptive GOP poll challengers at two different locations in Las Cruces.

If you’re interested in real time Election Day coverage, be sure to check out the New Mexico Independent’s General Election Liveblog here.

Election Day Dirty Tricks in Doña Ana County

Reports of doorhangers with the wrong precinct and polling place information being distributed in precinct 35 of Doña Ana County raise the specter once again of campaign dirty tricks.

Today the Olé Education Fund, a nonpartisan voter participation organization, reports that someone apparently has been removing the organization’s Get-Out-The-Vote doorhangers that had been left at households early this morning, and then replacing them with doorhangers with incorrect polling locations.  The incorrect doorhangers are from a batch that had been deployed correctly by  Ole’s canvassers in another precinct across town over the weekend.

Olé has determined that these earlier doorhangers were likely stolen from original doors and then subsequently used today in Precinct 35 in an attempt to mislead voters.

Over 70% of the population of precinct 35 is Hispanic.

Olé is following up on the reports of incorrect doorhangers as they come in. The problem seems to be limited to Precinct 35.

This isn’t the first report of dirty tricks in Doña Ana County.  Over the weekend, robocalls went out to voters who had received absentee ballots, but had not returned them. The calls falsely informed those voters that the deadline for returning the ballots had passed.  The deadline for County Clerks to receive returned ballots is 7 PM tonight. Also voters may deliver their ballots to their regular precinct polling location today before 7 PM.

Recently, Olé workers were the target of intimidation and harassment tactics involving an operative from the Martinez for Governor Campaign.

A Report From the West Side Polls

By Tracy Dingmann

Election Day 2010 has been relatively quiet so far, says University of New Mexico political science professor Lonna Atkeson.

We ran into Atkeson at Lavaland Elementary on the city’s West Side. Atkeson, who is director of UNM’s Center for the Study of Voting, Elections and Democracy, was there to observe voting behavior as part of her work with the Center.

Atkeson said she’s visited a number of precinct sites today and hasn’t seen anyone from the Tea Party at any of them.

The only small glitch Atkeson said she’s seen is that some poll workers are still mistakenly telling folks they need to show ID.

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