AP NEWS
ADVERTISEMENT

Voting rights groups organize hotline to report interference

October 2, 2020 GMT
1 of 3
Poll workers help voters behind plastic barriers during primary voting on Tuesday, June 2, 2020, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In the county's first election since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, poll workers wore surgical masks and voters were given a squirt of hand sanitizer as they entered the building, a warehouse next to the county's rodeo grounds. (AP Photo/Cedar Attanasio)
1 of 3
Poll workers help voters behind plastic barriers during primary voting on Tuesday, June 2, 2020, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In the county's first election since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, poll workers wore surgical masks and voters were given a squirt of hand sanitizer as they entered the building, a warehouse next to the county's rodeo grounds. (AP Photo/Cedar Attanasio)

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Voting rights organizations in New Mexico have announced a nonpartisan voter protection program intended to make it easier for people to report election interference and seek out consultation on other problems at the polls or with absentee ballots.

On Thursday, Common Cause New Mexico and the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico said they are establishing a hotline in English and Spanish that will be staffed by attorneys, law students and those with a legal background who are familiar with the New Mexico Election Code, and will provide voters with live assistance if they encounter any irregularities.

ADVERTISEMENT

President Donald Trump continued his assault on the integrity of the U.S. elections during the first presidential debate this week, spreading falsehoods about the security of voting and misrepresenting issues with mail ballots.

Temporary election reforms in response to the coronavirus pandemic are allowing early voting at all poll locations to limit crowding, streamlined procedures for authenticating absentee ballots, earlier deadlines for absentee ballot requests and state-subsidized drop boxes.

Republican plans to send out some 50,000 poll watchers in battleground states are already clashing with detailed local regulations about who can stand at the polls to monitor and challenge balloting.

“This year presents unprecedented challenges for voters who want to exercise their right to vote and protect their health at the same time,” said Heather Ferguson, executive director of Common Cause New Mexico, in a statement. “New Mexicans should feel secure that they can cast their ballot in a number of different ways, and that it will be counted as cast and anyone who interferes or tampers with elections will be held accountable.”

Common Cause New Mexico has been running an election protection program since 2008 with no party or campaign affiliation.

Organizers of the remote monitoring plan were seeking out volunteers to train in advance. Absentee balloting begins Oct. 6 across New Mexico and early voting convenience centers open on Oct. 17 for in-person voting.

ACLU attorney Nia Rucker said the plans respond to a “highly charged atmosphere and a coordinated campaign to undermine the democratic process and cast doubt on the integrity of our elections.”