The Governor has signed a big bill (SB 672) that can shift what voter registration agents do. What’s your take on this bill? Is it a good idea or not?
Senate Bill 672—”Early & Auto Voter Registration” Sponsored by Senators Linda Lopez, (D-Bernalillo County), Daniel Ivey-Soto (D-Bernalillo County) and Representative Linda Trujillo (D-Santa Fe County), it will allow voters to register during early voting and on election day. Current law cuts off registration 28 days before an election.
The bill also establishes automatic voter registration through the state’s Motor Vehicle Division (MVD). This aspect of the bill means that a person going to the MVD in person, to obtain or renew a driver’s license or i.d., would have to specifically opt-out of being a registered voter as opposed to opting in, which is currently in place.
Additionally, the bill establishes automatic voter registration for qualified New Mexico residents doing business with other state agencies.
Rep. Trujillo provided a fascinating explanation of how SB672 made it through the Senate: “There is a deadline for filing bills,” she said, “so leadership typically files dummy bills, with broad, vague names. The dummy bill that was used was titled ‘Public Peace, Health, Safety & Welfare.’”
She went on to explain that during the session, especially near the end, when it becomes evident that a piece of legislation needs to be introduced, legislators will revise one of these placeholder bills.
She continued to explain that Sen. Ivey-Soto drafted a much smaller version of the two House bills (HB 84 & 86 )) that were before the Senate Rules Committee. The new bill—SB 672— consolidated them into one. Both HB84 & HB86 had been passed by the House. Neither one could morph into a consolidated bill, because according to Rep. Trujillo, it’s not legitimate to amend a bill so much that it doesn’t match the title.
Two similar Senate bills (SB 50 & 52) had been referred to the Senate Rules Committee, but had not been heard by the committee.
SB 672 was quickly passed through the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate floor, and then went back through committee on the House side. When it came to the House floor, Republicans made a number of amendments from the floor. All but one of those were added, (which Rep. Trujillo said showed a great deal of collaboration by the Republicans). Dramatically, Daymon Ely (D-Corrales) proposed one additional amendment allowing for same day registration, before the bill was passed by the House by a margin of 45-22. The bill then went back to the Senate for concurrence and was finally passed.
Governor Michelle Lujan-Grisham has signed SB 672 which carries an effective date of January 1, 2021. However, according to Rep. Trujillo, it does not mean that counties cannot implement it sooner. House Rep Gail Chasey, one of the original House bill’s sponsors, said that the deadline for the bill’s implementation was delayed in order to give the county clerks throughout the state extra time to prepare.
Please comment on what you think of this bill. What is your take on this bill?