If you’ve been to a Sandoval County Commission meeting in the past year, you’ve seen and heard from John Veltri and members of New Mexico Election Transparency Network.
Veltri founded NMET in March 2022 to “unify New Mexico through communication, education and action, promoting solutions for New Mexico’s election system.”
The seeds that NMET grew from were planted in 2020 when Veltri began questioning the election process in America.
“I think back in 2020 was when I really sort of started to see some things happening with elections that I didn’t think were right; I thought some things were maybe wrong,” Veltri said. “My 92-year-old father taught my sister and my brother and I three words early in life, and that was ‘Do what’s right.’ If you do what’s right, that means if you see something wrong, you do something about it, don’t just sit there like some people do. I decided that I’m retired, I have a really good education, I’m a good communicator, a good presenter and I thought there was something that was amiss and I wanted to dive into it and learn more about it.”
Veltri began meeting with Sandoval County Commissioners last year and continues to do so. Veltri’s father recently passed away, but Veltri was still in attendance and spoke at the latest commission meeting, which marked the one-year anniversary of the beginning of Veltri’s quest to ensure transparent elections in New Mexico.
“That was the one-year anniversary; it’s hard to believe,” Veltri said. “Sandoval County has been very unique in allowing us to interact with them the way that no other county has allowed in the state.”
NMET also works with several other counties in the state and has grown from five members a year ago to nearly 1,000. NMET recently launched its web site to provide information and help promote secure and transparent elections.
As the group’s reach has grown, NMET is gaining momentum to reach its goals. And what are those goals, exactly?
“All counties in some way, shape or form, work with their body of commissioners and their representatives to try to make a difference,” Veltri said. “And the difference might be maybe something I’ll just take for example, voter ID. Well, why is it that we don’t have voter ID in the state and most states do? I feel like I would want to make sure that when I go vote that my vote counted when I walk in instead of you walking in and saying you’re me and my vote is gone. Those things happen; they just don’t happen once and a while. They happen thousands of times in every state.”
NMET members have been to Santa Fe numerous time during this legislative session working to enact change. NMET is also working on reform concerning drop boxes, electronics and the existing voting process in general. The group and the Sandoval County Commission worked together to put together a resolution in June. That resolution passed 3-2 on June 22 and calls “on the New Mexico Legislature to enhance the faith of the voting public in election outcomes through improved election processes.”
Through the joint resolution, the Sandoval County Commission and NMET are requesting the New Mexico Legislature to adopt the following changes to the New Mexico Election Code:
- Photo ID should be provided by every voter.
- Inactive voters should be efficiently removed from the voter rolls after failure to vote in two consecutive general elections.
- The use of unsupervised ballot drop boxes should be prohibited.
- Voters casting absentee ballots should also require photo ID and the chain of custody process for returning absentee ballots should be enhanced.
- An automatic post-election audit should be done involving at least 10 percent of all precincts involved in any municipal, primary or general election prior to canvass certification.
“That doesn’t mean those laws go away; we might enhance those laws,” Veltri said. “We want to take what exists and change it to what we hope would be better.”
Veltri’s passion to change the way elections are done in New Mexico sprouted from the 2020 presidential election, which was shrouded in claims of election fraud.
“I voted in lots of elections and I always thought everything was up and up, and it wasn’t till 2020 that, of course the media put a lot of stuff out there, I happened to start listening and reading things that I could search on my own, that I had questions in my mind about,” Veltri said. “And then as I started doing that, I started getting into the electronic side of it, for example, and realizing what a tabulator can do. And a tabulator comes by many different names, but I’ll just call it a tabulator. I worked in technology for 33 years. It’s like a circuit is a circuit is a circuit. And I realized that something didn’t seem right to me and that’s how I got into this. And from that point on, it’s been nonstop. I’m retired for almost 12, 13 years. I enjoyed the first 10. The last two have been a challenge, moving, getting relocated in New Mexico, which I love this state. But there’s something about politics that I didn’t feel good about. And then in the last year I decided to get involved, and it’s been a full-time job seven days a week.”
While Veltri points to the 2020 presidential election as a moment that opened his eyes to the possibility of a flawed election process, he makes it a point to introduce himself as non-partisan. He says election transparency is something every New Mexican — every American — should be demanding regardless of political affiliation.
“I don’t discriminate against anybody who wants to make sure their vote counts fairly,” Veltri said. “We’re dealing with facts; we’re not dealing with conspiracy theories. We’re just trying to take things that we saw that didn’t look right and try to make them better and maybe make them right and to do that we have to follow the process, and that’s to work with the legislative body in Santa Fe to change those laws so that going forward those are the laws we have to follow. I’m trying to appease everybody. I’m trying to help the Democrats, the liberals, the Republicans all understand that if we take an issue like voter ID, this is good for everybody. This means everybody voting is a legit American citizen with the right to vote. If we address drop boxes and we try to eliminate the possibility of things like ballot harvesting, that’s something that I think everybody who wants to do the right thing would be interested in. It’s not saying I’m doing this for that side or this side; I’m doing it for everybody because it’s the right thing to do. Going back to those three words, I believe in doing what’s right and not sitting back and doing nothing.”