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New Mexico Republican official caught training polls challengers to suppress votes

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A liberal group in New Mexico claims to have undercover video showing the vice chair of the Sandoval County Republican Party training poll challengers to use illegal tactics that could suppress voters’ rights.

ProgressNow New Mexico on Wednesday published video of a September 26th official “Poll Challenger Training,” in which former Republican Sandoval County Commission candidate Pat Morlen misinformed voters about ID requirements and assistance for Spanish-speaking citizens.

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“At the request of two or more precinct board members of different political parties, a voter shall still present the required physical form of identification,” Morlen says in the video.

Rules posted by the New Mexico Secretary of State, however, state that a verbal ID — such as name, birthday and address — are all that can be required from a vast majority of voters.

You do not have to present a photo ID. Only if you are registering for the first time in New Mexico, and you submit the registration form by mail, then you must submit with the form a copy of (1) a current and valid photo identification; or (2) a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, student identification card or other government document, including identification issued by an Indian nation, tribe or pueblo that shows your name and current address. If you do not submit one of these forms of identification with your mailed-in, first time registration, then you would be required to present one of the forms of identification when voting in person or absentee.

The trainer also falsely claims that voters who changed their address but stayed in the same voting district should receive a provisional ballot and that no assistance would be provided to non-English speaking voters.

Morlen, who is now a tea party activist, later mocks disabled voters in New Mexico.

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“In this state, if you’re in a coma [laughing] and your parent wants you to vote, they can vote for you,” she quips. “My own opinion is if the person can’t even say their name, at least their name, I don’t see why they should be voting.”

ProgressNow New Mexico warned that the faulty poll challenger training “could potentially restrict the voting rights of as many as [one in eight] New Mexicans in November.”

“Throughout the training the Republican Party representative shows an insensitivity to language minorities and disabled citizens and displays a concerning lack of knowledge regarding New Mexico’s voting regulations – this lack of knowledge could have a harmful effect on Election Day when the people who attended these trainings begin trying to challenge votes at the polls,” the group wrote. “If the attendees of these trainings – and trainings likes these that have occurred or will occur – attempt to challenge votes because of what they learned, it could lead to many problems at the polls and has the potential to disenfranchise voters who have a legal, legitimate right to exercise their civic duty on Election Day.”

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Watch this video from ProgressNow New Mexico, uploaded Oct. 3, 2012.

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