My View

The Santa Fe New Mexican, May 19, 2024 

Salazar: Check the record before voting 
By Geraldine Salazar

 

In the interest of setting the record straight, as your candidate for Santa Fe County clerk, I am compelled to write this piece, with the hope that voters will read it before casting their votes in the upcoming primary election.

Improvements to the Santa Fe County election system to make voting easier began before Katharine E. Clark ever held public office. In 2014, new electronic voting machines and 2018 voting convenience centers were implemented throughout Santa Fe County along with the complementary change in 2006 legislation to require paper ballots. These were groundbreaking technological and modernization improvements that continue to make voting easier to this day. These changes were all reported in The Santa Fe New Mexican.

Absentee ballot drop-off boxes were added to the Santa Fe County voting system in the 2020 election after a legal challenge to the New Mexico secretary of state was won. That allowed the deployment of absentee ballot drop-off boxes statewide. Also, the ability for county clerks to produce faster vote results is because 2019 legislation permitted processing of absentee ballots before the final election day.

The Santa Fe County Clerk’s Office, in collaboration with the City Clerk’s Office, initiated and implemented ranked choice voting on March 6, 2018. In addition, same-day voter registration was initiated by the County Clerk’s Office in 2020 as sanctioned by the Legislature. All of this happened before Clark became county clerk. These initiatives were reported in The New Mexican.

The 2018 Regular Local Election Act, which includes “school board and other local elections” to streamline and increase voter participation in odd year elections was initiated and implemented in Santa Fe County in 2019. This initiative and implementation was reported in The New Mexican.

The massive public records digitizing and indexing project of thousands and thousands of public records began initially by Clerk Rebecca Bustamante, continued by Clerk Valerie Espinoza, and continued throughout my two terms as county clerk. In my estimation, the three previous county clerk administrations had completed more than 90% of this project. In my estimation, Clark only completed a few thousand public records of this project. She has claimed in different venues she digitized 99% of all public records. These claims were not true.

This can be verified by Professional Document Services and the county’s information technology department that had to work together to finalize this project for the clerk’s office. In addition, they should have purchase and work orders, and data migration history to verify the final completion of this project under her tenure. Also, credit card purchasing of county records was in the process of being implemented before Clark arrived on the scene. Also, her alleged “probate backlogs” are false. There was no backlog when Clark took office. Her backlog assertion is outright misinformation and probate Judge Cordelia Montoya can verify this.

Additionally, Clark’s statement that she initiated public access to computers in the office foyer is incorrect. Access to public computer terminals was implemented during the coronavirus pandemic and were in place and operating before Clark took office.

In my view, Clark is a good speaker and spins a number of false narratives. If one does not know the history of the clerk’s office operations, you would believe these false claims.

It is important for the people and the media to research the history of the candidate and the history of the Santa Fe County Clerk’s Office to know the truth and not allow a candidate to be elected who has single-handedly reduced access to the clerk’s office and alienated previous employees and other Santa Fe County employees.

Finally, I am appalled that she posted signage in every voting booth prominently displaying her name advising what to do if a voting mistake is made. As a candidate on the current ballot for county clerk, she should not display her name inside every voting booth. Clark is abusing her office and the public trust by using public resources to personally promote her name in this election.

The clerk’s job is a wide-ranging job that requires ethical public service and not unfair political election practices.

Geraldine Salazar is the former Santa Fe County clerk, 2013-20, running for reelection in the 2024 primary.

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