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Late voter registration shot down in House

SANTA FE – A proposal to allow people to register to vote closer to Election Day was narrowly rejected by a House committee Thursday.

Rep. Debbie Rodella, D-Española, crossed party lines to join with Republicans to table the bill – a procedure that blocks it from moving forward.

The proposal, Senate Bill 224, would have allowed people to register at early-voting sites, which operate until the weekend before Election Day.

As the law stands now, the registration period ends 28 days before the election.

Sen. Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces, said the state now has technology that makes it easier to process new registrations. Furthermore, he said, many people don’t tune in to election season until debates and mailers start, often in the last few weeks before Election Day.

“I think we owe it to our citizens to do this,” said Steinborn, the bill’s sponsor.

The measure had already cleared the Senate 19-11.

But some county clerks, especially in rural areas, told the House Local Government, Elections, Land Grants and Cultural Affairs Committee that it would be difficult to accept registrations at early-voting sites. They said it would increase the risk of a mistake, such as assigning the voter to the wrong precinct.

MEDICATIONS: Terminally ill patients could try new medication not yet approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration under a bill adopted by the House on Thursday.

The proposed “Right to Try Act” is co-sponsored by Republican Reps. Rebecca Dow of Truth or Consequences and Kelly Fajardo of Belen.

It outlines a series of rules for patients who want to try an “investigational drug.” A doctor’s recommendation would be required, among other things.

House Bill 228 won approval on a 62-0 vote and now heads to the Senate.

“The will to live is strong,” Dow said in a written statement, “and we should be helping people investigate every option to pursue life.”

Dan McKay: dmckay@abqjournal.com

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