NEW MEXICO 5 Electoral Votes

Given the close outcome in New Mexico in 2000, many organizations worked on voter registration.  By Election Day, Nov. 2, 2004, there were 1,105,372 registered voters, a 13.5 percent increase over 2000.

Democratic Governor Bill Richardson formed Moving America Forward, a political action committee, in mid-2002; MAF, a 527 organization, was active through 2004 and focused on registering Native Americans and Hispanics as well as doing training and getting out the vote in New Mexico, Florida and Colorado.1  Indeed one of the underlying questions in the New Mexico race was whether Governor Richardson, known to have presidential ambitions of his own, would be able to help Kerry carry his state.

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) reported it registered 35,540 people, using volunteer ACORN members and paid outreach workers out of offices in Albuquerque and Las Cruces. Voter registration workers and volunteers went door-to-door, registered people at public events and in front of stores and offices, and travelled to other parts of New Mexico such as Gallup and Las Vegas for one-day blitzes.  However ACORN drew scrutiny and much unfavorable publicity after one ACORN worker was found to have registered a 13-year old.

On the Republican side, the Republican National Committee later awarded the state party the coveted Golden Elephant award for the success of its voter registration efforts; from Dec. 2003 to Dec. 2004 Republican registration in New Mexico increased 17.0 percent.

The nonpartisan New Voters Project, a project of the state PIRGs, made New Mexico one of its six core states as it sought to register 18-24 year olds; the organization reported registering 25,555 18-30 year olds in New Mexico.3  Southwest Voter Registration Education Project (SVREP) reported it registered 17,190 voters in New Mexico, the majority of them in the Summer and Fall of 2004.

The net result of all these efforts was a narrowing of the Democrats' registration edge as compared to 2000; the Democrats' advantage went from 19.5 percentage points in Nov. 2000 (Democrats 52.2%, Republicans 32.7% and no party 11.9%) to 17.3 percentage points in Nov. 2004 (Democrats 49.8%, Republicans 32.5% and no party 14.9%).

New Mexico attracted attention of several groups aligned with the Kerry campaign including Americans Coming Together (ACT) and Environmental Victory Project (EVP). ACT started canvassing New Mexico voters door to door in June.  EVP reported that its staff and volunteers knocked on 175,000 doors and talked to over 60,000 voters in Albuquerque and Santa Fe swing precincts in a canvassing effort that began in May 2004.

New Mexico's population has the highest proportion of Hispanics of any state.  According to the 2000 Census, 42 percent of New Mexicans are of Hispanic or Latino orgin.  SVREP notes that "Unlike in Texas and California, there is not a large immigrant population in New Mexico.  93% of its Latinos are citizens with the potential to decide an election."  The Democratic campaign sought to reach out to and incorporate Hispanic leaders across the state into their field and communications programs.  Democrats also ran an intensive Spanish-language radio campaign aimed at generating increased turnout from the Hispanic community.

New Mexico has 22 Indian nations; Native Americans comprise about 10 percent of the state's population.4  The Democrats' Coordinated Campaign had two Native American field staffers working specifically on outreach in the 10 Southern Pueblos.  Anathea Chino, one of the field organizers, noted that Native Americans "are not routinely familiar with voting, especially on a National level."  Although the right to vote was granted to Native Americans at the federal level in 1924, when Congress passed the Indian Citizenship Act, New Mexico lagged behind and did not until allow Native Americans to vote, in state elections at least, until 1962.  Chino also points to studies that show a significant difference in election turnout in those tribes that are accustomed to electing their local leadership or Governors, as compared to those in which the Governors are appointed by a group of traditional tribal leaders.  Chino said the "most effective way to organize and mobilize was to work within the communities themselves."  She and Rosanna Breuninger, another Native American field organizer, spoke frequently at elderly centers, for example.

Finally, as in other battleground states, many volunteers came in from out of state in the closing days and weeks.  In southern New Mexico, El Paso, Texas is a 45-minute drive from Las Cruces.  Other volunteers came from further away.  On the Democratic side, there were the Kerry Travellers.  One Democratic field organizer said after the campaign that he had as many people as he could have asked for, but that in his view things were not as well organized as they might have been and greater attention should be given to using these resources in a more effective and strategic way.

Third party candidates were active in New Mexico.  As in many states, Ralph Nader met with opposition from Democrats in his efforts to achieve ballot access and ultimately fared poorly garnering just 0.54 percent of the vote as an Independent.  Libertarian candidate Michael Badnarik made a play, running ads statewide starting Aug. 3, 2004 and then doing a tour of the state mid-month.  The campaign spent about $65,000 to run the 30 second spot "Peace President" on TV and about $10,000 on radio.  Associate campaign manager Barbara Goushaw-Collins stated that Badnarik "was being recognized in the street and reporters were following him around and, just as it should be, everywhere he went they were sticking microphones in his face."  Goushaw-Collins said that after this blitz polls showed Badnarik at 5 percent; he ultimately achieved a scant 0.31 percent.

Early voting was significant in New Mexico.  30.48 percent of voters (236,340 of the 775,301 total voters) cast ballots in the two-week early voting period that started on Oct. 16, 2004.

As in 2000, vote counting dragged on for days, in large part because of the difficulty in counting thousands of provisional ballots.  Unlike in 2000, President Bush's margin was such that the outcome never appeared in doubt, however.  The deadline for New Mexico's 33 counties to complete their canvasses was Nov. 12, 2004; by putting in long hours most counties made that, but Doña Ana County came in late, finally certifying its results on Nov. 16, 2004.  The State Canvassing Board, comprising Governor Bill Richardson, Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron and Supreme Court Chief Justice Petra Maes, then certified the statewide results on Nov. 23, 2004.  That same day Governor Richardson called for bipartisan election law reform and issued a list of more than a dozen recommended reforms, making it clear that there was still much room for improvement in New Mexico's voting procedures.

On Nov. 29, 2004 Green Party nominee David Cobb and Libertarian Party nominee Michael Badnarik jointly filed for a recount.  The Canvassing Board met on Dec. 15, 2004 and approved a recount but said Cobb and Badnarik would have to come up with a $1.4 million deposit by Dec. 16, 2004 to cover costs.  Cobb and Badnarik went to the New Mexico Supreme Court, but on Dec. 23, 2004 the Court declined to hear the case.  They then went to the New Mexico Court of Appeals and further argued that officials should not clear the voting machines.  Cobb and Badnarik carried the fight into the New Year, seeking a partial recount of the presidential vote, which the Canvassing Board rejected on Jan. 14. 2005.  Months later their attorneys were still pursuing the matter; on Aug. 29, 2005 the state Supreme Court heard arguments on the question of the $1.4 million deposit.

According to Cobb's website, New Mexico had "the nation's highest percentage of under-votes for the presidential race, a statewide rate of 2.45%" (under-votes defined as the difference between the total ballots cast and votes for president) as well as an estimated 2,087 "phantom votes" or over-votes and "many unanswered questions about provisional ballots, missing votes and the integrity of voting machines which don't produce a paper trail."5

1. In addition to the 527 organization, a charitable entity, Moving America Forward Foundation, a 501(c)(3), formed in Oct. 2003 and was active in Arizona and Nevada).

2. Matthew Henderson directed ACORN New Mexico.

3. James Moore served as NM State Director of the New Voters Project.

4. According to the U.S. Census Bureau in July 2004, Native Americans comprised 9.5 percent of the population; but that figure is based on those reporting only one race; a Democratic Policy Committee report "The American Indian Vote: Celebrating 80 Years of U.S. Citizenship" (Oct. 7, 2004) put New Mexico's Native American population at 191,475 or 11 percent.

5. For more on this subject see United Voters of New Mexico

See also:
Andy Lenderman. "Kerry Didn't Turn Out His Base in New Mexico." Albuquerque Journal.  Nov. 21, 2004.
Andy Lenderman.  "Rural Emphasis Won N.M. for Bush." Albuquerque Journal.  Nov. 21, 2004.
Bush-Cheney '04 Kerry-Edwards 2004
Organization details...  details...
BC'04 State Chair: Sen. Pete Domenici
Exec. Director: J. Scott Jennings
Office: 2129 Osuna NE,  Albuquerque

Victory '04 Director: Phil Coppage
Office: 2129 Osuna NE,  Albuquerque

Republican Party of New Mexico
State Chair: Col. Allen Weh (ret.)
Exec. Director: Greg Graves
Office:  300 San Mateo NE, Suite 101, Albuquerque 

KE State Director: Moses Mercado
Comm. Director: Ruben Pulido Jr
Office: 3301 Central Ave., NE, Albuquerque

Coordinated Campaign Director: Irma Esparza
Office: 3301 Central Ave., NE, Albuquerque

New Mexico Democratic Party
State Chair: John V. Wertheim
Exec. Director: Vanessa Alarid
Office: 1301 San Pedro NE,  Albuquerque 

Travel  compare...
Final Month (Oct. 2-Nov. 2, 2004)
George W. Bush - 3 visit (3 days)
Dick Cheney (and Lynne Cheney) - 2 visits (2 days)
Laura Bush (solo) -  0 visits
John Kerry - 3 visits (5 days) 
John Edwards - 0 visits
Teresa Heinz Kerry (solo) - 1 visit (1 day)
Elizabeth Edwards (solo) - 1 visits (1 day)
Eight Months (March 2-Nov. 2, 2004)
George W. Bush -  6 visits (6 days)
Dick Cheney (and Lynne Cheney) - 6 visits (6 days)
Laura Bush (solo) -  2 visits (2 days)
John Kerry - 6 visits (10 days)
John Edwards - 4 visits (4 days)
Teresa Heinz Kerry (solo) - 2 visit (2 days)
Elizabeth Edwards (solo) - 2 visits (3 days)

Newspaper Endorsements
Albuquerque Journal  (10/31/04) >
Daily Times [Farmington]  (10/24/04)
Las Cruces Sun-News  (10/17/04)
Carlsbad Current-Argus  (10/17/04)
Santa Fe New Mexican  (10/24/04)
*Albuquerque Tribune  (10/12/04)

Third Party and Independent
Nader Ballot Access
The campaign held a media briefing on Sept. 7, 2004 to announce it submitted nominating petitions signed by more than 31,000 New Mexicans, more than two times the required number of signatures (14,527).  A press release stated that this was achieved despite "organized and well-funded malicious attacks" by the New Mexico Democratic Party.  One example of opposition was an Aug. 20, 2004 letter by Progressives for Kerry which charged that Nader's campaign had been "hijacked by ardent Republicans."  A national group, (National Progress Fund) ran some advertising in New Mexico in May and August.  Nader's New Mexico Coordinator Carol Miller noted in a Sept. 2004 e-mail that at the Democratic National Convention in Boston during the New Mexico delegation breakfast former Congressman Tony Moffett, a guest speaker, organized and raised money around the number one task of keeping Nader off the ballot.  "They should have used their time to plan how to help Kerry who is tanking," she stated.  Miller also cited petitioner harrassment:  "Volunteer petitioners were harassed from time to time.  In addition, Nader-Camejo hired a professional petition firm.  Because one of their contractors was a registered Republican, the NMDP called out the media and hounded these people who were just trying to work." [Sept. 2004 e-mail].

Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron certified Nader as a candidate on Sept. 9, 2004.  On Sept. 15, 2004 five New Mexico voters including the executive director of the NMDP filed suit in state District Court charging that many of the signatures the Nader campaign submitted were invalid and that Nader did not qualify as an Independent candidate because he was running in other states as a minor party nominee..  On Sept. 17, 2004 District Judge Wendy York ruled that Nader should not appear on the ballot based on the argument that he did not qualify as an Independent candidate.  The Nader campaign attributed her "inexplicable" decision to a conflict of interest [press release] and was set to file an expedited appeal with the State Supreme Court on Monday, Sept. 20, 2004.  However on that day Judge York withdrew her opinion and recused herself from the case.  The campaign's return to the ballot lasted only a matter of hours, however, for another judge, District Judge Theresa Baca, took over the case and came down with a similar decision, also on Monday.  The Nader campaign then went to the State Supreme Court which on Sept. 28, 2004 ruled that Nader would appear on the ballot as an independent.

State Coordinators/Contacts
Nader: Carol Miller
Cobb: Michal Mudd
Badnarik: Richard Obergfell

October 13, 2004
-Speaks at debate party at the University of New Mexico Student Union in Albuquerque, NM.

August 28, 2004
-Press conference and media one-on-one at Albuquerque Sunport Airport.
-Campaign speech at University of New Mexico Student Union in Albuquerque, NM.

August 9-14, 2004
-scheduled, in addition to many radio interviews:
Aug. 9  Visit to International UFO Museum & Research Center in Roswell, NM.  Meet and greet at the Out of This World Coffee Shop in Roswell, NM.
Aug. 10  Speaks to the Rio Rancho Chamber of Commerce at Ace Hardware in Rio Rancho, NM.
Aug. 11  Mid-day and early evening appearances at Tribes Coffee House in Santa Fe, NM.
Aug. 12  Rotary del Sol in Albuquerque, NM.
Aug. 13  Press conference followed by meet the candidate at La Posada Hotel in Albuquerque, NM.
August 14  Liberty Dinner at Three Rivers Restaurant and Brew Pub, then participates in San Juan County LP's Liberty Forum at the Farmington Civic Center in Farmington, NM.

Copyright © 2005  Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action.

The 2004 Campaign on the Web--New Mexico 11/01/04
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NM Democratic Party
Libertarian Party of NM
Green Party of NM
Constitution Party of NM
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