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Editorial: Time to update voter rolls

You can’t say you haven’t been given plenty of notice.

The New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office announced Monday that it has started its big biennial chore of updating voter rolls across the state, this time in preparation for the elections of 2017.

The current activities won’t affect anyone’s ability to vote in this year’s election, so there is no reason to panic or look for a sinister reason for the timing.

Bureau of Elections Director Bobbi Shearer said the office is following federal law in starting the process to update 2017 voter registration rolls at this time. Federal law requires states to maintain updated voter files and remove the names of voters who have become ineligible because they have moved or for other reasons.

Postcards are being mailed to about 186,000 New Mexicans who are registered to vote but who have, for instance, had mail returned as undeliverable or who have filled out a change of address form. If the post office returns one of the Secretary of State’s cards as undeliverable and the person named does not vote in the next two years or update his or her address, that person may be removed from the voter roll for the 2017 election.

Voter rolls are supposed to be updated every two years, though that hasn’t always occurred in New Mexico. Shortly after taking office in 2011, Secretary of State Dianna Duran reported that the Department of Justice had informed her New Mexico had failed to purge inactive voters the previous seven years and as such was the only state out of compliance.

Voting is tied to a person’s physical address, particularly in districted races like state House and Senate. A correct address is needed to determine the makeup of a voter’s ballot. People who receive the cards should return them.

And, while it is a civic duty to vote, a voter also has a duty to make sure his or her registration is current. It’s a simple process that protects this most precious right.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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