Maggie Toulouse-Oliver – New Mexico’s Secretary of State
Working in public office since 2007, Secretary Maggie Toulouse Oliver has experienced her fair share of elections. From her first position as county clerk to her current role as secretary of state, Toulouse Oliver has years of expertise in the formation and preparation of election administration. This year, as she and her staff prepare for election season, they face a changed political landscape as New Mexico comes off one of the nation’s most extreme instances of election disinformation.
Earlier this year, Secretary Toulouse Oliver enlisted the help of the New Mexico state Supreme Court to order a county commission to certify the results of primary election in Otero County after members of the commission refused to do so citing concerns with the vote-tallying process.
“I think it is indicative of the types of things that are happening in other states,” she said. “So, as we prepare for November, not only are we doing all the other things that we always have to do in the lead up to an election, but now we’re also having to actively combat myths and disinformation among citizens and elected officials.”
New Mexico has been at the forefront of election accuracy, enacting a post-election audit law in 2005 and working year-round to vamp up cybersecurity collaboratively through The New Mexico Election Security Program Office and the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Information Technology Division. However, this year Toulouse Oliver is focused on three main components to help mitigate disinformation surrounding elections: an extensive, documented review of the election process; outreach to the public; and a nonpartisan approach to collaborating with entities like county commissions.
The Office of the Secretary of State has already been making attempts to communicate directly to the public while working to dispel any misconceptions about the process through a “Rumor vs. Reality” fact-checking webpage. Though Oliver wants to personally connect with people working in county commissions, who play an integral role in the democratic process, to quell any concerns they may have about the integrity of votes in New Mexico.
While Oliver has her own partisan ties, she values the importance of a nonpartisan workplace and the oath she took before assuming office to ensure fairness and accuracy. Beyond that, she wants people to know that there is more that unites us than divides us.
“Election officials, no matter whether they’re Democratic or Republican, take the aspect of their job to ensure fairness and accuracy very seriously. I certainly do that too. In fact, we swear an oath on that,” she said. “Election officials at all levels, from the highest levels down to the local poll worker, are experiencing threats based on our participation in our democratic process. I think it’s really important right now to talk about ourselves as humans, right? I’m a single mom and I have both a 24-year-old son and a 12-year-old son to whom I’m dedicated to more than anything else. Beyond my kids, this job of ensuring fair and accurate elections is my number two.”