Voting Rights Act (HB 4) Now in NM House Long Overdue, says Common Cause
“For far too long we have been disenfranchising people in New Mexico because of various obstacles to both registration and voting,” says Common Cause New Mexico Executive Director Mario Jimenez. “That includes our Native American communities which experience challenges that others do not.”
House Bill 4 sponsored by Reps. Javier Martinez and Gail Chasey (D-Bernalillo), Sen. Katy Duhigg (D-Bernalillo), Rep. Wonda Johnson (D-Mckinley and San Juan) and Raymundo Lara (D-Dona Ana) has been dubbed the state Voting Rights Act. It will be heard in House Gov. Elections & Indian Affairs on Friday Feb. 3.
The bill includes an entire Naive American Voting Rights Act, which comes as a response to the long distances some tribal members must travel to vote early or on election day, the lack of polling places, and the lack of street addresses for many tribal members. HB 4 requires counties to consult with tribes on precinct boundaries, polling places, drop boxes, early voting locations, and prevents the closure or consolidation of polling places on tribal land without written consent from the affected tribe. It also allows the use of approved tribal administration buildings as the address to receive absentee ballots.
Among the many other provisions of the bill:
- A clarification of how voter data can be used
- Automatic restoration of voting rights to formerly incarcerated New Mexicans
- A permanent absentee ballot list to allow people to receive ballots without signing up every election
- An update of the automatic registration process and same-day registration
- Declaring Election Day, a school holiday
The bill is in marked contrast to many other states which seek to restrict voting access. Last year, it was blocked on the last day of the session by a filibuster in the Senate.
“We need to ensure that all New Mexicans across the state are afforded access to the ballot box,” Jimenez said.
Common Cause encourages constituents to contact their legislators in support of HB 4 as it makes its way through the process.
Common Cause is a nonpartisan grassroots organization dedicated to upholding the core values of American democracy. We work to create open, honest, and accountable government that serves the public interest; promote equal rights, opportunity, and representation for all; and empower all people to make their voices heard as equals in the political process.