In March 2011, Secretary of State Dianna Duran addressed a State House hearing telling them her office had evidence of voter fraud in New Mexico and would soon disclose it. She later retreated from that claim and failed to provide a final report on the matter to the legislature as promised.
Many suspected that Duran, in fact, had on such evidence but ProgressNow New Mexico has learned that she did indeed have such evidence and the perpetrator is none other than her friend Governor Susana Martinez.
Election documents, obtained by ProgressNowNM, from a 2011 school board election in Dona Ana County show that both Martinez and her husband Charles “Chuck” Franco requested absentee ballot applications from the County Clerk (they are still registered to vote at their Las Cruces home). However, the county clerk confirmed to us that he refused to process the applications because he believes the signature of Franco was forged by Martinez. And that, according to New Mexico law in effect at the time is a violation of the Election Code:
1-6-4. Absentee ballot application; federal qualified elector; overseas voter.
C. Each application for an absentee ballot shall be subscribed by the applicant and shall require the applicant's printed name, registration address and year of birth to be supplied by the applicant, which shall constitute the required form of identification, except for new registrants who have registered by mail and at that time did not provide acceptable identification....
1-20-22. Violation of Election Code; general penalty.
If the Election Code [Chapter 1 NMSA 1978] does not impose a specific penalty for the violation of a provision prohibiting a specific act, whoever knowingly commits such violation is guilty of a petty misdemeanor.
It is also likely forgery:
30-16-10. Forgery .
A. Forgery consists of:
(1) falsely making or altering any signature to, or any part of, any writing purporting to have any legal efficacy with intent to injure or defraud; or
(2) knowingly issuing or transferring a forged writing with intent to injure or defraud.
B. Whoever commits forgery when there is no quantifiable damage or when the damage is two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500) or less is guilty of a fourth degree felony.
The Dona Ana County Clerk confirmed to ProgressNowNM that he took a special trip from Las Cruces to Santa Fe and hand-delivered the forged ballot to the Secretary of State. For two years, no one heard any more. Until we started digging.
ProgressNowNM met with the Attorney General's Office in early January and asked them to investigate. Based on our complaint, the Attorney General asked the Secretary of State and Dona Ana County Clerk for documents.
Instead, the Secretary of State and Governor went to the Albuquerque Journal telling them they did nothing wrong.
"Gov. Susana Martinez acknowledged Friday that she signed an absentee ballot request for a school board election in January 2011 on behalf of her husband, Chuck Franco, but said she had no intention of deceiving election officials or casting his ballot.
"The incident was investigated at the time by Secretary of State Dianna Duran, also a Republican, after it caught the eye of the Doña Ana County clerk. Duran’s office found no wrongdoing on Martinez’s part, the secretary of state’s chief of staff, Ken Ortiz, said Friday."
- Albuquerque Journal, Jan. 19, 2013
We know better. The law is clear: Forging another person's name on an absentee ballot application is against the Election Code and that is against the law.
During an interview in early January, Dona Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins confirmed to ProgressNow New Mexico that he delivered the original documents to Secretary of State Dianna Duran who serves as the state’s chief election officer.
State law (NMSA 1-2-2) says that Duran “shall… report possible violations of the Election Code of which the secretary of state has knowledge to the district attorney or the attorney general for prosecution” but our investigation indicates that she failed to do so.
It's no surprise that the Secretary of State and Governor went on the offensive to cover divert the public from the truth.
But we know better and you deserve to know the truth.
View the documents yourself. Click the "Documents" tab above to judge for yourself.
There are lots of unanswered questions:
Governor Martinez violated the Election Code.
Why did the Secretary of State Duran cover it up?
Where are the original documents?
You deserve to know. Help us move this investigation forward.