All eligible voters in New Mexico should be registered, and the government should do it for them automatically, three Democratic lawmakers said Wednesday in announcing a proposal to enshrine new election law in the state constitution. The legislators said their proposal for automatic voter registration would reduce costs and create a more accurate system. Another likely benefit would be more people voting and holding government accountable for policy decisions, said Rep. Liz Thomson, one of the measure’s sponsors. “The more voices we hear, the better we can represent them,” Thomson said. She is teaming on the proposed constitutional amendment with Rep. Javier Martinez and Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto. All three sponsors are from Albuquerque.
Ivey-Soto, executive director of the state County Clerks Association and the Legislature’s recognized expert on election law, said government in the United States has a long record of making it difficult for people to vote. “The history of voter registration is the history of exclusion,” Ivey-Soto said. He cited an early voting law in Massachusetts that said those eligible to vote were “not of the Negroid race, male and a property owner.”
Instead of setting restrictions, government should automatically register everybody who’s eligible to vote, Ivey-Soto said. Six other states, including California and Oregon, recently approved automatic registration for every eligible voter.
Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver stood alongside the legislators and advocated for the change. She was the Bernalillo County clerk last fall, when 20,000 people in her jurisdiction registered just before the deadline to vote in the general election.