Gov. Susana Martinez killed on Friday legislation that would have consolidated most local elections into one beginning in 2019. The pocket veto was a defense of local laws requiring photo identification to vote, Martinez spokesman Chris Sanchez said. “It would have taken away voter ID in the local jurisdictions that have implemented it,” Sanchez said. “The governor is a strong supporter of voter ID.” Satisfying concerns about preserving local voter ID laws in Albuquerque, Rio Rancho and elsewhere was key to winning GOP support for the bill during legislative deliberations. Cities would have been allowed to opt out of consolidated elections if the bill had become law. Supporters said those that did opt out would have been allowed to keep their own rules governing elections, including requiring a photo ID to vote.
Articles about voting issues in New Mexico.
A proposal to allow people to register to vote closer to Election Day was narrowly rejected by a House committee Thursday.
Rep. Debbie Rodella, D-Española, crossed party lines to join with Republicans to table the bill – a procedure that blocks it from moving forward. The proposal, Senate Bill 224, would have allowed people to register at early-voting sites, which operate until the weekend before Election Day. As the law stands now, the registration period ends 28 days before the election.
An automatic voter registration bill lost a bit of what made it automatic, but moved on from the House committee that previously blocked it. State Rep. Daymon Ely, D-Albuquerque, was one of two Democrats to previously vote against the legislation in the House Local Government, Elections and Land Grant Committee. He explained after that vote that he voted against the bill initially so he could bring it off the table, citing a parliamentary rule, and reconsider the matter. The bill was previously tabled in the same committee. Ely brought the bill back Tuesday. After a very brief discussion, the committee passed the bill unanimously. “It looks complicated but it’s not,” sponsor Patricia Roybal-Caballero, D-Albuquerque, told the panel of the amendment.
A proposal to open New Mexico’s primary elections to independent voters survived – just barely – its first challenge in the state Senate.
The bill made it out of the Senate Rules Committee on Monday without a recommendation and now heads to the Judiciary Committee, potentially its last stop before reaching the Senate floor. But that was only after a motion to recommend passage of the bill failed on a tie vote. A similar proposal, meanwhile, is also advancing through the House, though it has not yet reached the floor. Monday’s action centered on Senate Bill 205, sponsored by Sen. John Sapien, D-Corrales.
Two Democrats joined with Republicans to kill a bill that would have automatically registered all eligible adults as voters when they obtain a New Mexico driver’s license. Rep. Debbie Rodella, D-Española, questioned whether the bill was necessary when the Motor Vehicle Division can already offer eligible adults the chance to register to vote. Republicans on Thursday evening moved to table the bill in the House Local Government, Elections, Land Grants and Cultural Affairs Committee. Rodella and a newly elected Democrat, Rep. Daymon Ely of Corrales, sided with Republicans to stop the proposal on a 5-2 vote.
Fresh off a divisive election season, the Senate on Monday approved legislation adding New Mexico to an interstate compact aimed at guaranteeing the president – in future elections – would be elected by national popular vote. The measure, Senate Bill 42, passed the chamber on a party-line 26-16 vote, with Democrats in favor and Republicans opposed, and now moves on to the House. “By doing our part to move toward a national popular vote, we can begin the process of regaining the voters’ trust in our elections and ensure their voices are equal to every voter across the country,” said Sen. Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque, the bill’s sponsor. However, several Republican critics of the legislation accused Democrats of pushing the change in response to President Donald Trump’s victory. “Just because we didn’t get our way means we pout and change the entire system,” complained Sen. Cliff Pirtle, R-Roswell.
Potential voters would be able to register up until three days before an election under legislation that cleared its first committee hurdle last week. Senate Bill 224 would change current law, which cuts off voter registration 28 days before an election. “It is long overdue that New Mexico update its antiquated 28-day cut off period for citizens to register to vote. Clearly, we have the technology to safely enable citizens to register much closer to the election,” said Sen. Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces, the bill’s sponsor. “This bill is a great step forward to make that happen.”
The New Mexico Supreme Court on Monday upheld the state’s system of closed primary elections, ruling the practice is constitutional and not overly burdensome. The decision means primary elections can continue to be closed to voters who aren’t registered as members of the political parties with candidates on the ballot. That means other voters, including those who decline to state a party affiliation, can vote in only general elections. The Supreme Court’s ruling, however, may not be the last word on the issue. The state Legislature is considering legislation to open primary elections to all voters. Albuquerque lawyer David Crum, who brought the case before the Supreme Court, had argued closed primaries violate the state constitution’s guarantee of free and open elections.
The state Motor Vehicle Division would pull info on drivers and register them to vote—if they are eligible—according to a bill that is being considered by lawmakers in Santa Fe during this year’s legislative session. Representative Patricia Roybal Caballero (D-Bernalillo) proposed the legislation. She says it would get more folks voting. “It’s an attempt to modernize our system, make it more accessible, coordinate so it is not so cumbersome, so it is more secure. It gives us a chance to invigorate the voters,” she said.
New Mexico lawmakers will consider electoral reforms to make it easier for independents to vote in primary elections and to run for state office, amid a steady shift away from major party registration in the state. Republican and Democratic lawmakers filed proposed legislation and constitutional changes on Monday that would upend New Mexico’s closed primary system that excludes independent voters from major party primaries. One new bill would allow unaffiliated voters to participate in primary elections for a major party of their choice. The two bill sponsors — Republican Rep. Jim Dines of Albuquerque and Democratic Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard of Los Alamos — said younger voters in particular are being shut out of the electoral process because they do not identify closely with major parties. “For me, the issue is access,” Garcia Richard said. “This is a way, I believe, of taking down barriers to access to the ballot.”