University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
Title "New Mexico ex rel. Riddle v. Oliver"
Date Sep 1, 2020
Author Healthy Elections Project
External Link
Abstract Petitioners are County Clerks and therefore responsible for administering elections and the election process in each county of New Mexico. Petitioners are (1) required to appoint and confirm the willingness of all Election Boards to work on the primary and general elections by April 21, 2020, (2) responsible for hiring additional election workers, as needed, and (3) required to conduct a site inspection of each location chosen to serve as a voting center at least 30 days prior to the election. Petitioners argue that they must either abide by the Election Code or violate their respective oaths of office to protect voters and staff. Petitioners argued that the NM Secretary of State is duty-bound to abide by the Election Code and an order by the Governor or Secretary of State to change the manner of elections would violate the NM Constitution (as time, place and manner of voting is in the purview of the Legislature). Petitioners reached out to the Governor's office requesting the Governor call the Legislature to a Special Session but that request was denied (and, Petitioners argue, a Special Session is not truly feasible or safe during a pandemic). Petitioners claimed there was no adequate remedy available at law and therefore turned to the Court for equitable relief. Petitioners asked the Court to issue a writ directing Respondents to (1) do away with in-person voting and use mail-in ballots only, (2) order polling places not to operate, (3) deliver ballots to voters in accordance with the procedures for special elections, and (4) operate alternate in-person polling places for voters that require assistance. The Supreme Court ruled from the bench, unanimously (1) ordered the Secretary of State to mail to all registered voters an absentee ballot application, (2) ordered in-person voting to proceed (in accordance with legal/health guidelines, and (3) denied all other relief requested.
Source Healthy Elections Project

This Resource Relates To
case (VR-NM-0034)

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