New Mexico governor urges voting by mail amid pandemic

Coronavirus New Mexico

FILE – In this May 28, 2020, file photo, mail-in ballots are processed at the Chester County Voter Services office in West Chester, Pa., prior to the primary election. Democrats are mounting a new effort to push back against a well-funded Republican campaign that seeks to undermine public confidence in mail-in-voting. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is urging voters to request an absentee ballot online and cast them by mail in the interest of safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an email message sponsored by her campaign, the first-term Democratic governor said Thursday that voting by mail is safe, easy and contributed to record turnout across New Mexico in the June primary.

“I’m asking every voter in New Mexico to request an absentee ballot and vote safely by mail during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Lujan Grisham says.

State election officials have expressed confidence in the ability of the U.S. Postal Service to handle an increased volume of absentee ballots. At the same time, local election experts including Democratic state Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto of Albuquerque say the most reliable option for absentee ballots may be direct, hand delivery at county clerk’s offices, drop boxes or voting centers.

Prominent Democrats in Congress are pushing for increased oversight of the Postal Service following operational changes by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and President Donald Trump’s baseless claims that mail-in voting will lead to widespread fraud.

New Mexico is adding postal bar codes to absentee ballots to allow remote tracking of delivery, while voters for the first time must sign the outer envelope of absentee ballots and write down the last our digits of their social security number to help with authentication.

Trump said Thursday that people who vote early by mail should show up at their local polling places on Election Day and vote again if their ballots haven’t been counted, a suggestion that experts said would lead to chaos, long lines and more work for election officials during a public health crisis.

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