Editor’s Note: This article was done in collaboration with our partners at the New Mexico News Port, as part of our project to connect the Daily Lobo to more members of our community.
Current Secretary of State and University of New Mexico alum Maggie Toulouse Oliver is running for re-election this fall.
Toulouse Oliver received both her undergraduate and her master’s degree at UNM and has been involved in elections in New Mexico for the last 23 years, she said.
“(Being) a graduate student in studying election systems and voting behavior has really helped me in my work, and it has helped me apply some of the tools...to the work that I do,” Toulouse Oliver said.
Prior to becoming secretary of state, Toulouse Oliver served as Bernalillo County clerk, where she supervised elections.
“I was the first county clerk to add a polling location for early voting at the University of New Mexico — that’s been a huge success,” Toulouse Oliver said. “I’m a hugely strong proponent of every eligible citizen being able to easily register to vote and cast their ballot,” Toulouse Oliver said.
In addition to providing early voting opportunities, she said she has worked hard to make voter registration easier. According to her platform, she advocates for online voter registration and opposing voter ID requirements as two efforts she is making to improve voter registration.
“Often (times) students don’t have this specific type of government-issued ID that’s needed when those types of laws pass,” Toulouse Oliver said.
During her time as Secretary of State, she has been focused on trust and accountability in government, she said.
As Secretary of State, she is obligated to ensure candidates properly report public campaign funds accurately.
“So we’ve done a lot of work to crack down on folks who violate (campaign finance) laws,” she said. “We’ve also written some rules that make it easier for elected officials and candidates to comply with the laws, so that everyone can have a higher level of trust in our elected officials for New Mexico.”
Toulouse Oliver she acknowledges the role of the Secretary of State is not based on partisan politics.
“It is incredibly important for the Secretary of State — no matter which party they hail from — to approach their work in a very bipartisan and fair way,” Toulouse Oliver said.
She said this commitment to fairness fosters the public’s trust in election outcomes.
If re-elected, Toulouse Oliver said she would like to introduce automatic voter registration.
“I do believe that every eligible citizen should be automatically registered to vote and of course if they choose not to, they can opt out,” Toulouse Oliver. “But that’s an initiative that I would like to pursue.”
She said, despite recent economic hardships, New Mexico has amazing potential.
“We have had a rough time in the state, we’ve never fully recovered from the Great Recession, like so many of our nearby states have, so there’s still a lot of families in poverty — we still have a lot of issues related to poverty and crime that need to be seriously addressed,” she said. “But I do feel like maybe we rounded a corner over the last year, economically, in the state.”
No matter what issue an individual cares about or where they are in their life, Toulouse Oliver said there is a government decision that will ultimately affect them.
“If you’re a person who’s passionate about the environment, women’s health or racial inequality, obviously making your voice heard at the polls is the most fundamental way that you can have an impact on those,” Toulouse Oliver said.
She is proud of the work she has done both as both county clerk and in her tenure as secretary of state, she said.
“I think my record speaks for itself,” Toulouse Oliver said. “I’m very results-oriented and very dedicated to the work and to running fair and accurate elections — and I would just urge voters to look at my record and learn about what I’ve done.”
Nichole Harwood is the culture editor at the Daily Lobo. She writes for both culture and news. She can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @Nolidoli1.