Dems introduce elections bill with bit less heft - Albuquerque Journal

Dems introduce elections bill with bit less heft

In this file photo, a sign advertises early voting. New Mexico legislators are weighing changes to the state’s election laws, including allowing 16-year-olds to vote in city elections. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – A sweeping elections bill backed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is a little less hefty than expected.

The version of the legislation introduced Tuesday wouldn’t authorize a straight-party voting option, extend the mail-back deadline for absentee ballots or expand early voting by a day – all of which were components of the proposal announced earlier this month.

The bill, nevertheless, calls for a host of changes to New Mexico’s election laws, including allowing 16-year-olds to vote in local elections and establishing a permanent absentee voter list.

Lujan Grisham, a Democrat up for reelection this year, described the bill Tuesday as an important step toward expanding and protecting voting rights.

The proposal is supported by Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, and its co-sponsors include the Democratic floor leaders in both chambers, Sen. Peter Wirth of Santa Fe and Rep. Javier Martínez of Albuquerque.

“Even as we’ve seen attempts around the country to make voting more difficult for eligible voters,” Toulouse Oliver said, “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.”

Republicans say the proposal would lead to fraud and confusion. Republican Party Chairman Steve Pearce said it would “damage the security and integrity of New Mexico elections.”

As it stands now, the election bill would:

  • 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.
  • Allow 16- and 17-year-olds to vote in local and municipal elections.
  • Restore the voting rights of felons who aren’t incarcerated.
  • Permitting people without an official state ID to register to vote online by using their full Social Security number.
  • Designating Election Day as a state holiday.

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