SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – An election bill years in the making has received approval by the Legislature and now heads to Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s desk. If she signs the bill into law, New Mexico could see automatic voter registration, an easier path for convicted felons to get their voting rights restored, and the requirement for video-monitored ballot boxes in most counties.
The Democratic sponsored House Bill 4 makes multiple changes to the state’s laws regarding elections and voting. In addition to attempting to improve election security, the bill seeks to get more New Mexicans involved in elections.
The bill would make a streamlined, automatic process for qualified individuals to become registered to vote. When individuals go to the Motor Vehicle Division to get a new (or renewed) driver’s license, they will automatically be registered to vote if they show proof of citizenship and are otherwise qualified. Afterwards, they’ll receive a notification from the county clerk with more info, including how to opt out of the registration.
The bill also seeks to give some convicted felons an easier path to restored voting rights. Currently, felons must serve their time behind bars and finish their parole before they can try to get their ability to vote restored. House Bill 4 would allow them to begin the process once they leave jail, even if they are still working to complete parole.
The bill also requires each New Mexico county to use at least two secure, monitored containers to help individuals cast their votes in elections. County clerks, however, can request a waiver of that requirement if necessary.
Last week, the New Mexico Senate debated the bill. Monday, March 13, the New Mexico House agreed with the Senate’s changes and gave final approval of the bill.
Now the legislation heads to the Governor’s desk. She has until April 7 to decide whether or not to sign the bill into law.