Closeup of a computer keyboard with a key labeled "Vote." A miniature ballot box is sitting on the key

New Mexico governor signs voting rights expansion bill

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Tom Joyce

(The Center Square) - New Mexico's governor signed a voting rights expansion bill into law Thursday.

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the New Mexico Voting Rights Act (House Bill 4). The bill continues, “this administration’s efforts to strengthen voter rights and protections for every New Mexican,” according to a press release.

“Today, New Mexico is leading the nation by example, declaring that we believe, unequivocally, in the fundamental right of every American to choose those who represent them,” Governor Lujan Grisham said in the release. “The provisions of this bill related to Native Americans, in particular, are the first in the nation, making sure that the rights of citizens of those sovereign nations are also protected.”

House Bill 4, according to the release, will do the following:

  • Automatically registers voters at the MVD or other local public office designated by the Secretary of State;
  • Restores the right of previously incarcerated individuals to vote upon their release from custody;
  • Creates a voluntary permanent absentee voter list;
  • Prohibits the transfer or publication of voter data online;
  • Mandates same-day voter registration at all polling places;
  • Mandates at least two monitored secure ballot drop boxes per county; and
  • Enacts the first-in-the-nation Native American Voting Rights Act allowing Indian nations, tribes, and pueblos to amend their request for voting locations and to apply for secured ballot drop boxes and allows electors to use government buildings as their mailing address.

House Speaker Javier Martínez, D-Albuquerque, was one of the bill’s primary sponsors. He said the bill will ensure that voters have their voices heard in future elections.

“New Mexico is now a North Star for voting rights in our country,” Martinez said. “This law means New Mexicans can have confidence that their voices will be heard, our elections will be secure, and our government will be representative of our people in all of their diversity.”

State Representative D. Wonda Johnson, D-Gallup, was also among the bill’s sponsors. She said she thinks the bill will boost democratic participation in the Native American community.

“The New Mexico Voting Rights Act will enact historic and nation-leading protections for Native American voters to ensure equal access to the ballot and will lead to better representation in all levels of our government,” Johnson said.

Plus, the new law has support from Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver. She said that at a time when other states are taking steps that she thinks could make voting more difficult, she is happy to see her state doing the opposite.

“Today’s signing of the New Mexico Voting Rights Act is a huge win for voters. This bill represents years of dedicated work from community members, the bill sponsors, and election administrators from around the state,” Oliver said in the release. “Federal voting rights bills are stuck in Congress while voting access is under attack in many states across the nation. But not here in New Mexico. The New Mexico Voting Rights Act balances voter access with maintaining our high levels of election security, and I thank Governor Lujan Grisham for signing it into law today.”