(CN) – The New Mexico Republican Party is not entitled to see uncensored records of drivers’ licenses issued to undocumented immigrants, the state Court of Appeals ruled.
Lynn Ott, director of the Help America Vote Act, joined the Republicans in asking for the records from the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department and its motor vehicle division.
They said they wanted to “research whether undocumented aliens were voting in federal, state, and local elections in New Mexico.”
The request was prompted by a news article about Gov. Bill Richardson’s attempt to rein in the number of undocumented workers who obtained drivers’ licenses by submitting bogus identification documents.
According to the article, the state tax department estimated that nearly 27,000 undocumented immigrants had acquired drivers’ licenses under the then-existing regulations, which required they show only one form of ID.
The state delivered the records, but much of the information the plaintiffs wanted to see was redacted.
The Republicans challenged the redactions in court, but the trial court ruled for the state. The plaintiffs again lost on appeal.
Judge Celia Castillo rejected their claim the information should be disclosed under the “research” exception to the Inspection of Public Records Act.
“We observe that Plaintiffs did not initially indicate that their request was based on this exception, and they did not assert this as a basis for disclosure until after filing their complaint,” Castillo wrote.
“We further conclude that the State met its burden that on balance, the interests of the public in keeping the documents confidential outweigh the interest of the plaintiffs in having them disclosed,” she concluded.