Twin bills making their way through the NM State Legislature’s 2019 session would provide for automatic voter registration at the state’s MVD offices, and contract field offices and, eventually, other state agencies. The NM resident applying for a new or renewed driver’s license or i.d., and meeting other requirements, would be enrolled in the registered voter database, or have their information updated, unless he/she opted out of potentially voting.
Senator Jeff Steinborn (Senate District 36), the sponsor of SB50, said “It is the state’s responsibility to make voter registration as automatic as it can for citizens legally entitled to vote. It is our job to enfranchise people’s rights, especially the right to vote.”
Representative Dayan Hochman-Vigil, (House District 15), a sponsor of twin HB 84, stated “We’re at a time when all New Mexicans recognize the importance of voter participation and it’s through this that the passage of legislation such as HB 84 is possible and it’s with this continued participation that we’ll see this law is passed.”
Successful passage of the bill would require an increase in the SOS’s election budget estimated at $780 thousand from the public election fund to cover costs for voter address verification, plus monies stipulated by the Voter Action Act’s requirement to distribute $0.25 per voter in the district for PRC seats and $0.15 per voter for statewide judicial seats, to cover costs of public financing of these down-ballot races. An additional employee at the SOS office would be hired to evaluate what other state agencies could provide the same service. Overall, these changes to SOS operating expenses would result in an annual increase of approximately $70,000.
SB50 is currently before the Senate Rules Committee. HB84 received a “Do Not Pass” from the House Judiciary Committee, with a “Do Pass” recommendation on a slightly revised substitute bill.