By the time the 2016 presidential election rolled around, New Mexico had one of the lowest rates of voting-age citizens registered to vote. Only two-thirds of the state’s eligible voters had signed up to cast a ballot, compared to at least 80 percent in Maine and the District of Columbia, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Perhaps unsurprisingly, New Mexico also had one of the lowest rates of election turnout among its voting-age population. One state lawmaker wants to make it easier for people to vote through an amendment to the New Mexico Constitution that would require the state to ensure every citizen who is eligible to vote is at least registered.
Senate Joint Resolution 5 would ask New Mexicans to put the state among a growing number with what is known as automatic voter registration. Such laws are popular among progressives, who argue that such a system makes it easier for the public to participate in elections. But others warn the laws could lead to voter fraud and might be ill-suited for a state like New Mexico, with closed primary elections. Even some Democrats are likely to oppose the idea.
Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, a Democrat from Albuquerque who is sponsoring the joint resolution, said the constitutional amendment comes down to a question: “If we are going to require registration as a condition for voting, who’s responsibility is it for people to be registered?”
The joint resolution would put that responsibility on the state.