SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Two bills expanding and updating voter’s rights and protections in New Mexico are now on the governor’s desk. One comes from the House, and the other is from the Senate.
House Majority Floor Leader Gail Chasey (D-Albuquerque) said House Bill 4 and Senate Bill 180 both work to expand access to the polls and making it easier to vote: “House Bill 4 expands voting rights and includes the Native American Voting Rights Act. It is all about access to the ballot. Senate Bill 180 is an update that county clerks needed and that the secretary of state needed and assures that we will have elections that are well-run and secure and really unquestionable.”
House Bill 4 includes the following features:
- Creates the Native American Voting Rights Act
- Places secure drop boxes in each county
- Creates a permanent volunteer absentee list
- Mandates that voter’s information will not be made public
- Establishes an automatic voter registration through the MVD
- Gives voting rights back to convicted felons who are no longer behind bars
Senate Bill 180 includes the following provisions:
- Measures to keep people’s voter information secure
- Doubles the amount county clerks can pay election workers to try to attract more
- Requires checks of the vote tabulation machines after every election
“The county clerks are elected, and they have a job to do, and I think our job as legislators and the county clerk’s job is to make it easy for people to vote. So, whatever that takes is what should happen,” Chasey said.
Both bills passed largely on party-line votes and drew backlash from Republicans.
Senator Greg Baca (R-Belen) said, in a statement, that House Bill 4 only benefits felons and people looking to compromise the elections. Senator Mark Moores (R-Albuquerque) said those who passed Senate Bill 180 “weakened our Republic by passing this bill.”
Chasey said election legislation has become very partisan in recent years.