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Voting Rights Changes In New Mexico Heads To House Floor

A bill that would make major changes to voting rules in New Mexico, particularly on tribal lands, received a Do Pass recommendation from the House Judiciary Committee,and now heads to the House Floor.

HB 4, known as the Voting Rights Protection Actwas approved on a party line 7-4 vote.

The bill is similar to one that died on the final day of last year’s session after a filibuster by Republicans ran out the clock.

House Speaker Javier Martinez is the bill’s main sponsor.

He told the committee the bill includes the Native American Voting Rights Act. Martinesz says it addresses voting inequities in native areas as well as the rest of the state by ensuring precinct boundaries are aligned with tribal nation and pueblo boundaries along with other provisions.

“It requires tribal language translation at the polls. It expands and enhances early voting in and near tribal communities. It allows the use of official buildings on tribal lands as mailing addresses for tribal members for the purpose of election mail,” he said. “It allows the appointment of ballot tribal assistance to help tribal members with their absentee ballots and it provides the necessary resources to clerks in counties across the state to comply with all aspects of the Native American Voting Right Act.”       

The bill also allows felons in New Mexico to automatically be allowed to register to vote after they are no longer incarcerated. 

It creates a permanent, voluntary absentee voting list, declares Election Day a school holiday and would require at least two secured voter drop boxes in each county for early voting.