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.
Articles about voting issues in New Mexico.
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.”
New Mexico: Democrats propose amendment calling for automatic voter registration | The Santa Fe New Mexican
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.
Constitutional amendments dealing with school elections and voting rights that were thought to have failed years ago actually were passed, the state Supreme Court ruled today. The justices concluded that the constitutional changes needed the approval of only a majority of voters — not the 75 percent that was thought to be required — because they expanded rights, not curtailed them. That means that school elections could now be held in conjunction with other nonpartisan elections, such as municipal elections, rather than having to be held separately. The other changes modernized language in the constitution, replacing the references to “idiots” and “insane persons” as being prohibited from voting.
New Mexico: Auditor: Elections are chronically under-budgeted by secretary of state | Albuquerque Journal
State Auditor Tim Keller, in a report released today, says the Secretary of State’s office has been chronically under-budgeting for elections over the past decade. Keller says that has led to the need for $25 million in emergency loans, grants and special appropriations from the state to pay for elections. “Repeatedly using emergency funding mechanisms for routine, regularly scheduled elections runs against commonsense budgeting principles,” Keller said in a statement. Secretary of State Brad Winter, however, told the Journal the problem is not that the office has underestimated how much elections will cost, but that it has been under-funded.
The state’s first bloc of 17-year-olds who are qualified to vote numbers 1,267. They can cast ballots in the June 7 primary elections, a spokesman for the Secretary of State’s Office said this week. A new state law allows 17-year-olds to register and vote in the June primaries if they will turn 18 before the general election on Nov. 8. State legislators approved the measure this year and Gov. Susana Martinez signed it. Of the New Mexico 17-year-olds who registered to vote in the primaries, 874 are Democrats and 393 are Republicans. Another 316 17-year-olds also registered, but they cannot cast a ballot in a primary because they did not align themselves with either major political party. New Mexico’s primaries are open only to those voters registered as Democrats or Republicans.
Taxpayers are on the hook for nearly $90,000 – and more – in legal fees and costs owed to the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico in its successful public records fight to compel then-Secretary of State Dianna Duran to provide the proof behind her claims of voter fraud by foreign nationals, the state Court of Appeals has ruled. An appeals panel found the legal tab was “reasonable” after a lawsuit filed by ACLU turned up public documents that Duran’s office had improperly withheld after the group filed requests under the state Inspection of Public Records Act. In the end, no actual “voter fraud” list was produced.