New Mexico is ready to protect voting rights | Editorials


New Mexico could be on the cusp of passing legislation that would make it easier to register to vote and increase access to vote — all needed because of a stalled Congress’ failure to pass electoral reforms. substantial.

This, despite increased efforts in states across the country to make it harder for certain groups to vote. New Mexico deserves credit for stepping up in the face of widespread voter suppression efforts.

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver are promoting a sweeping proposal that protects and expands voting rights. Senate Bill 8 would increase protections for Indigenous voters and also allow for the creation of a permanent mail-in ballot — no more having to request a ballot each election — while extending early voting by one. one more day, until the Sunday before polling day. It restores the right to vote for people with felony convictions and adds drop boxes where people can drop off their ballots.

All in all, there’s a lot to like about the proposal, which is sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth, as well as Democratic sensitivities Javier Martinez, Katy Duhigg, Harold Pope and Carrie Hamblen.

But supporters should remember that when trying to pass sweeping legislation, it’s wise to eliminate parts of the bill that appear to be sticking points.

This legislation would restore direct voting. This means a voter could simply choose Democrat or Republican or Libertarian, fill in an oval, and be done. We’ve said it before and we haven’t changed our minds: voting is serious business. Looking at each race individually isn’t too much to ask.

Nor are we keen on a provision to lower the voting age in local elections to 16. While we agree that voting is a great habit to instill in young people, we recommend focusing first on those who already have the right to vote — and aren’t exercising it.

Bringing 18, 19 and 20 year olds to the polls. All New Mexico election supervisors should consider increasing voter turnout as part of their job. That means everyone from the county clerk to the secretary of state.

The proposal would also automatically register to vote someone who renews their driver’s license at the Division of Motor Vehicles, what analysis of the bill calls a “behind-the-scenes” voter registration process. Rather than registering people to vote without their knowledge – they could then opt out – we prefer to ask them first. This means, for example, that when people are going to obtain or renew a licence, all they have to do is ask if they want to register to vote at the end of the transaction. It’s not too much to ask and expect an American to register to vote. It’s their responsibility

Adjusting these provisions of the full bill would not only create better policy, but get more votes from lawmakers. The bill is headed to the Senate Rules Committee, where we expect at least some amendments to be proposed.

The Legislative Assembly should keep the intent of the bill intact — to expand voting access for all, while adjusting those parts that are less necessary to that goal. Then adopt it and sign it into law. Show that New Mexico can protect the right to vote, even when Congress fails.

Ultimately, this bill should be viewed as voter protection, not a generation of voters for one party or another. By ensuring this bill addresses that, it gets buy-in — including from thoughtful Republicans who can see that it prevents ballot box stacking for all.


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