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Voter registration changes save time, money, democracy

There are a growing number of New Mexicans working multiple jobs and still not able to make ends meet. With limited time off from work and the increased mobility demands of daily life, the time it takes to navigate our current election and voter registration system to update or get on the voter rolls can be discouraging.

New Mexico took a unique opportunity to modernize our election and voter registration system in Senate Bill 672, which Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed Wednesday. It is investing in the future of our democracy while safeguarding our voter information.

Along with our legislators representing the many rural communities across our state, we share a firm belief that there is no greater fundamental value than the ability of each and every eligible American citizen to cast a vote. For Democrats and Republicans alike, the right to vote is a cornerstone of America’s democracy.

Elected officials have the responsibility to ensure New Mexicans have access to a secure and modern election and voter registration system that will efficiently update the voter rolls while saving voters time and our state money. But how exactly does modernizing our voter registration and election systems make them the most secure, cost-saving, effective and accessible possible?

For starters, a registration modernization system is already in place thanks to the efforts of Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver. Our current system allows voter information – name, date of birth and voting eligibility – to be collected and updated from different state agencies, like the Motor Vehicle Division. Senate Bill 672 simply switches our current system to give New Mexicans the choice to opt out of updating their information or registration. At the same time, the decision of those who do not wish to participate in the process, for whatever reason, is respected.

The legislation will provide a modern and efficient method that allows eligible New Mexicans to take full advantage of the opportunity to register, or keep their registration current, whenever they interact with a state agency, such as the Human Services Department (HSD). For New Mexicans who live in rural areas and have to travel great distances, passing and implementing Senate Bill 672 will prove especially helpful. It will save time, energy and that extra trip to town.

When fully implemented, SB 672 will not only be a time saver for constituents across the state, but also will reduce the costs for government. Registration modernization means a decrease in time spent on routine, but essential, administrative tasks like sorting paper voting applications – all while never losing sight of ensuring that the vote of every citizen will count. This is about making government work more efficiently. Furthermore, this will reduce taxpayer expense by effectively eliminating the costs of provisional ballots, which often result from residents having an old address on the registration file instead of their current address.

As a state, we can protect the integrity and security of voter registration while also encouraging citizens to participate in our election system. Creating an inclusive democracy means every voice and vote will count.

We applaud the hard work by Toulouse Oliver and members of the Legislature in the recent strides to make our elections and voter registration systems more secure, more efficient and less costly, as well as Gov. Lujan Grisham for recognizing this priority and signing SB 672 into law.

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