ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – More than 600,000 New Mexicans have already cast their ballot with less than one week until the November 3, 2020 General Election. If you’re planning on voting in-person, there some rules about what New Mexicans can and cannot do when they go to an early voting center or an Election Day polling location.
The following frequently-asked-questions explainer has been compiled based on answers provided by the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office and information obtained from New Mexico’s Election Code, as written in the state’s legal statute.
Q: Can I wear a hat, shirt, facemask or button that has my favorite candidate’s name on it?
A: No. Any clothing or items (sometimes called “paraphernalia”) that endorse a candidate, issue or measure on a ballot at not allowed to be worn in any in-person New Mexico election polling location, either for early or Election Day voting.
Q: Why can’t I wear clothing or items with my favorite candidate’s name on them?
A: Because that’s considered “electioneering,” and is illegal under New Mexico state law. According to the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office, “electioneering includes the display or distribution of signs or campaign literature, campaign buttons, t-shirts, hats, pins or other such items and includes the verbal or electronic solicitation of votes for a candidate or question. The NM Election Code prohibits electioneering within 100 feet of a polling location or absentee ballot drop box.”
Q: Can I take a picture of my ballot or a selfie with my ballot?
A: According to the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office Communications Director Alex Curtas, “Ballot selfies are fine, whichever way you vote. As long as the person taking the selfie doesn’t show any other voter or any other voter’s ballot in the picture.”
Q: What is “electioneering”?
A: Electioneering is the act of campaigning while being too close to the polling place. That includes the display or distribution of signs or campaign literature, campaign buttons, t-shirts, hats, pins or other such items and includes the verbal or electronic solicitation of votes for a candidate or question.
Q: Where does it say that “electioneering” is illegal in New Mexico state law?
A: Under New Mexico state statute chapter one (Elections,) article 20 (offenses and penalties,) section 16 (electioneering too close to the polling place.) The state statute reads:
A. Electioneering too close to the polling place consists of any form of campaigning within:
(1) one hundred feet of the building in which the polling place is located on election day when voting at a school, church or private residence; and
(2) one hundred feet of the door through which voters may enter to vote at the office of the county clerk, an alternate voting location, a mobile voting site or any location used as a polling place on election day that is not a school, church or private residence.
B. Electioneering includes the display or distribution of signs or campaign literature, campaign buttons, t-shirts, hats, pins or other such items and includes the verbal or electronic solicitation of votes for a candidate or question.
C. Whoever commits electioneering too close to the polling place is guilty of a petty misdemeanor.NMSourceOne.com, “Current New Mexico Statutes Annotated, 1978”
Q: What should I expect if I vote in-person at an election site?
A: According to the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office, “When you appear to vote in person, you will first be checked in by a poll worker who will ask you to provide and verify your name, registered address, and year of birth. Once you sign in, you will be issued a ballot and directed to a voting booth where you will be provided privacy to mark your ballot. Once you are finished marking your ballot, you will be directed to insert it into a tabulation machine to be counted.”
Q: Who is permitted in the polling place?
The following persons are permitted in the polling place while voting is occurring:
- Precinct board members.
- Voters in the process of voting.
- Persons lawfully providing assistance to voters.
- Poll watchers.
- County and state canvass observers.
- State police or other peace officers, under conditions described below.
Q: What is a poll watcher?
A: Defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a poll water is a person assigned (as by a political party or candidate) to observe activities at a polling place to guard against illegal voting, fraudulent counting of ballots, and other violations of election laws.
Q: How far/close can groups of people or protesters be from a polling location?
A: Groups can’t be within 100-feet of the polling place. Whoever commits electioneering too close to the polling place is guilty of a petty misdemeanor.
Q: Are Police Officers and other Peace officers permitted at a polling place?
A: According to the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office, police officers are permitted at the polling place upon request of election officials for the purpose of observing the conduct of the election. However, police officers may not interfere with voting procedures except to maintain order.
Q: How do I report inappropriate conduct or disruptions occurring at a polling location?
Individuals who witness voter intimidation or who are victims of voter intimidation may report the incident to the Secretary of State’s Office, their County Clerk’s Office and County District Attorney.
The New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office is charged with investigating complaints related to elections and ethics under New Mexico law. If you believe your complaint falls under the authority of our office, please submit your complaint, in writing, to our office, on the Complaint Form. They also accept complaints in both original and electronic form, but prefer e-mail.
- New Mexico Secretary of State Absentee and Early Voting: https://www.sos.state.nm.us/voting-and-elections/voter-information-portal/absentee-and-early-voting/
- Secretary of State and Attorney General’s 2020 New Mexico General Election Voter Information Advisory – Oct. 14, 2020: https://www.sos.state.nm.us/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/SOS-OAG-Advisory-10.14.20-1.pdf
- New Mexico State Statute, Elections Code – via NMOneSource.com: https://laws.nmonesource.com/w/nmos/Chapter-1-NMSA-1978