On January 6, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver announced their support for enactment of major changes in the state’s election laws by the 2022 New Mexico legislature. The link to the joint press release “Governor, Secretary of State announce plan to protect right to vote, expand ballot access” is here:
There were 8 major proposals supported by the Governor and the Secretary of State:
1. Giving 16 and 17 years right to vote in local elections, such as for city councils and school boards.
2. Straight-party ballot voting option allowing voters to choose the candidate in one party for every single race on the ballot.
3. Restoring voting rights to felons.
4. Sunday early voting and election day holiday.
5. Creating a permanent absentee voter list.
6. Allow registering on line with Social Security number.
7. Earlier mailing of absentee one week earlier or 35 days before Election Day.
8. Extending ballot acceptance by a full week.
In a statement making the announcement of changes to the state’s voting laws, Lujan Grisham had this to say:
“Protecting voting rights is essential to upholding our democracy and ensuring New Mexicans’ voices are heard.”
Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver for her part said:
“[This legislation] gives us the chance to pass one of the most powerful voting rights bills in our state’s history.”
SENATE BILL 6
Senate Bill 6 (SB6) is a 250-page bill updating New Mexico election procedure laws. The legislation is jointly sponsored by Albuquerque Democrat Senator Daniel Ivey-Soto and Elephant Butte Republican Senator Crystal Diamond. Passage of the bill is supported by Governor Lujan Grisham, Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver and county clerks throughout the state.
Some of SB6 provisions would make permanent temporary election provisions started during the pandemic. Those include an 11 p.m. halt to absentee-vote counting on election night, with work resuming the next morning.
There a 3 major exclusions in SB6 that had been originally announced being supported by the Governor and Secretary of State. Those are:
SB6 does strong>not authorize a straight-party voting option.
SB6 does not extend the mail-back deadline for absentee ballots. SB6 does not expand early voting by a day.
SB6 does call for a host of changes to New Mexico’s election laws, including allowing 16 and 17 year-olds to vote in local elections and establishing a permanent absentee voter list.
The major provisions of SB 6 can be summarized as follows:
Allowing 16 and 17 year-olds to vote in local and municipal elections.
Restore the voting rights of felons who are no longer incarcerated.
Establish a permanent absentee voter list, allowing people to sign up once to receive absentee ballots for statewide elections, rather than having to file a new application each time.
Permitting people without an official state identification to register to vote online by using their full social security number.
Designating Election Day as a state holiday.
RULES FOR POLL CHALLENGERS AND PHOTO IDENTIFICATION
A bipartisan election proposal is also moving forward in the 2022 New Mexico Legislative Session that would establish new rules for poll challengers and same-day voter registration. Under the proposal, training would be required for poll watchers and challengers. It would also prohibit someone from serving as a watcher or challenger if they had previously been removed from the role by election officials for violating election rules.
On February 26, the measure resulted in a clash in the Senate Rules Committee over whether a student identification (ID)card should be acceptable as identification when someone registers to vote on election day. State law now requires a photo ID for same-day voter registration. The proposal, would clarify that a driver’s license or other government-issued ID would be required, not simply a student ID.
Albuquerque area Republican Senator Mark Moores won approval for an amendment that would clarify that someone must show a government-issued identification, and not one from school or college, to register and vote on Election Day. The amendment was agreed to by bill sponsor Democrat State Senator Daniel Ivey-Soto.
Notwithstanding Ivey-Soto’s approval, Democrats objected to the provision and said they will try to amend the bill at a future hearing or revise the ID requirement in separate legislation. Some Democrats objected, contending younger voters may not have a driver’s license and that allowing student identifications would protect their right to vote.
Moores for his part accused Democrats of refusing to compromise with Republicans on a bill otherwise positioned to pick up bipartisan support and strengthen confidence in elections. Moores had this to say:
“If you guys don’t want to work with us, don’t even bring us to the table next time.”
Santa Fe Democrat and Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth said the voter identification provision is a reasonable policy question and that Moores himself had proposed language adjusting the rule. Wirth said:
“There’s legitimate discussion about how to do this.”
The measure cleared the Senate Rules Committee and now will be heard by the Senate Finance Committee. If the bill gets a do pass recommendation in the Senate Finance Committee, it will move on to the full Senate for passage.
DEMOCRAT SUPPORT, REPUBLCAN OPPOSTION
Governor Lujan Grisham supports passage of SB6 and described it as “an important step toward expanding and protecting voting rights.”
Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver supports passage of SB6 and had this to say:
“Even as we’ve seen attempts around the country to make voting more difficult for eligible voters … here in New Mexico we continue to be a leader in how to balance the demands for voter access with the needs of maintaining our high levels of election security.”
The Democratic majority floor leaders in both chambers, Santa Fe Senator Peter Wirth of Santa Fe and Albuquerque Representative Javier Martínez of Albuquerque, support the measures.
Not at all surprising, many Republicans follow Republican national talking points and say the changes will lead to “fraud and confusion”. Republican Party Chairman Steve Pearce went so far as to say the changes will “damage the security and integrity of New Mexico elections.”
The links to quoted news source material is here:
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
Changes to New Mexico’s election laws always generate partisan heated debate and accusations of potential voter fraud. Among recent changes that were controversial occurred with the enactment of the 2019 law that allows New Mexicans to register to vote and cast a ballot on the same day.
GIVING 16 AND 17 YEAR OLDS THE RIGHT TO VOTE
Allowing residents as young as 16 to vote in local elections, such as for city councils and school boards. This makes very little sense. Simply put, the U.S. Constitution does not allow 16 or 17-year-olds to vote in federal elections. The Twenty-Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides “The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.” The drive to lower the voting age from 21 to 18 grew across the country during the 1960s, driven in part by the military draft held during the Vietnam War. A common slogan of proponents of lowering the voting age at the time was “old enough to fight and die, old enough to vote”.
It is very difficult to understand the rational why now is the time to create a whole new class of voters by giving 16 and 17-years old’s the right to vote, even though it would be only for local elections, such as for city council and school boards. It is dubious to think that 16 and 17 year old’s have the maturity, let alone the understanding, of local municipal and school board issues other than perhaps trying to making their high school teachers and principals miserable.
RESTORING VOTING RIGHTS TO FELONS
Under the law, once a convicted felon has done their time or completed their court-imposed sentence including probation, they have paid their debt to society that should allow them to return and be productive citizen. Automatically restoring voting rights to felons who aren’t incarcerated and make it easier to register online to vote should be a no brainer. Notwithstanding, even if their voting rights are restored, the question is are convicted felons more likely have any interest in voting as is the lack of interest of many non felons.
DESIGNATING ELECTION DAY A HOLIDAY
As to the proposals to designate election day as a state holiday, this proposal is long overdue and should be adopted. Across the country, because of the big lie Trump has promoted that he lost the election and the lie of widespread fraud, red state legislatures are enacting laws to reduce access to the polls. New Mexico already requires employers to grant employees paid time off to vote and making election day a holiday is the logical next step.
CREATING A PERMANENT ABSENTEE VOTER LIST
Creating a permanent absentee voter list allowing people to receive ballots by mail without having to file new requests makes common sense and should be implemented in some form. Being able to cast a ballot should be made as simple as possible, not as hard as possible as Republicans want. Repeatedly requiring a person to make a request for an absentee ballot is an obstacle that should be eliminated.
REGISTERING ON LINE WITH SOCIAL SECUTITY NUMBER
This proposal does not make sense. Allowing people to register to vote online using their full Social Security number could create an environment of identity theft. Years ago, people’s social security numbers were placed on driver’s licenses and that practice had to be abandoned. A much better system to register to vote on line needs to be proposed.
SILLY CLASH OVER STUDENT IDENTIFICATION CARD
Republicans for decades have had a real hang up about mandating photo identification to be able to vote. The clash over whether a student identification card should be acceptable as identification when someone registers to vote on Election Day borders on the absurdity or is downright silly. Student identification cards issued by accredited universities and state higher education institutions are in fact just as reliable on many levels as state driver’s licenses, yet Senator Moores ostensibly believes universities or college are somehow bastions of election fraud and corruption.
WHAT GETS OLD
What gets old is when Republican Der Führer Trump Party Chairman Steve Pearce argues any changes to election laws made by Democrats that make it easier to register to vote and to vote “damage the security and integrity of New Mexico elections”. Der Chairman simply mouths off without offering a scintilla of evidence. The only damage to the security and integrity of our elections is when Republican big mouths like Pierce undermine the credibility of elections with his lies.
Nationally, legislatures controlled by Republicans in red states are making major changes to their election laws to give Republicans in charge of administering election counts the power to merely invalidate election results and votes and making it as difficult as possible to vote in order to suppress voter registrations and invalidate election outcomes.
Republicans on the national level have all bought into Der Führer Trump’s arguments that the 2020 election was rigged or stolen from him. The truth is that 2020 election was the most secured election in United State history.
Federal Courts at all levels, including Trump appointees, threw out court challenges and dismissed cases as quickly filed by Der Führer Trump supporters and finding a failure to offer any evidence of voter fraud. Upwards of 56 federal lawsuits challenging the 2020 Presidential elections, especially in battleground states that Trump lost, were dismissed as being frivolous with no evidence of fraud offered.
Unless Der Führer Trump Party Chairman Pearce can offer legitimate evidence of election fraud, or damage to the security and integrity of our elections he should do us all a favor and just shut up, especially when changes to our election law are bi partisan such as SB6.