During the last three decades, New Mexico secretary of state Dianna Duran says she has worked to make elections run smoothly for voters and candidates.
Now Duran, a Republican, wants to continue the work she started four years ago. She is being challenged by Democrat Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver.
Duran began her career in 1979 working as deputy county clerk within the Otero county clerk’s office until being elected in 1988 as the Otero county clerk. From 1992 to 2010, Duran served in the New Mexico state Senate.
“I introduced legislation and worked with the county clerk’s office to work on passing laws that changed the election code,” Duran said.
It was this involvement with voting and elections that led Duran to run and be elected as secretary of state in 2011.
Duran said she inherited a highly disorganized office that she had to revamp to make compliant after the U.S. Department of Justice found procurement violations within the office.
“She had to deal with some federal law; the Department of Justice had several consent decrees on this office regarding things that haven’t been done,” said Duran’s administrative assistant Trish Winter.
Duran said that she and her staff have worked hard to improve the office to make it something that New Mexicans can be proud of.
“We restored trust in the office and confidence in the system,” Duran said.
Duran says one of her successes came in 2013 when her office was given oversight of the Corporations Bureau, formerly part of the Public Regulation Commission. The goal of her office was to reduce paperwork processing times for businesses. The average wait time for documentation processing was four months.
Duran and her office were able to put a system into place that would help cut that down to a three-day turn around. Duran says she is trying to put those records into an online filing system.
Voting and elections
Among the many duties of the secretary of state, Duran and her office oversee elections and the voting process. This includes working with county clerks from all counties in New Mexico to improve voting registration and to ensure a smooth voting process.
“I am responsible for assuring that elections are conducted fairly and honestly,” Duran said.
Recently, Duran has looked into the issue of voter fraud around New Mexico and addressed what she saw as a problem. Working with the Doña Ana County District Attorney’s Office, she was able find at least 23 people stealing and attempting to steal other’s votes. Duran says at six of these people were convicted, while other cases are ongoing.
“One case of voter fraud, any time one person who should not be voting is voting . . that is one case too many,” Duran said.
A new question to address
Along with elections and voting, the secretary of state is also responsible for addressing which questions appear on the ballot. For non-policy issues, issues that will not change policy and act more as a poll, this has become a new debate, determining who has the authority to place these on the ballot.
Bob Anderson, a CNM political science professor, said the secretary of state’s main duty is arranging elections fair, unbiased elections.
“There’s a gray area of questions that come up over who can put non-policy issues on the ballot… so this has become a controversial issue in this race and it’s very interesting and it’s an area that no one has looked at before,” Anderson said.
A quick look at finances
According to reports filed with the Secretary of State’s Office, Duran has raised $215,925 through various contributors, including corporate sponsors and individual donations. Some of Duran’s biggest donors include the Jalapeño Corporation, Yates Petroleum and Par Five Energy, each contributing around $5,000. So far, she has spent $55,192 this campaign season.
If given another term, Duran says she wants to focus on the Corporation Bureau along with continuing to focus on elections and voting. Duran said she wants to see more improvement with voter registration, including providing better training for voter registration agents and removing deceased voters from the system. She said voter registration is moving into an online platform in July of next year.
“There’s things that she needs to finish that I think would benefit the taxpayers and state very well,” Winter said.[/text_output][share title=”Share this Post” facebook=”true” twitter=”true” google_plus=”true” linkedin=”true” pinterest=”true”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][image type=”none” float=”none” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover” src=”3248″][text_output]