January 21, 2019

Register and vote on the same day? Dems want to make it a reality

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Right now, if New Mexicans want to participate in elections, they have to register four weeks before Election Day. But legislative efforts look to change that.

Right now, if New Mexicans want to participate in elections, they have to register four weeks before Election Day. But legislative efforts look to change that.

State Sen. Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces, is the Senate sponsor of a same-day registration bill, which he says will help the state reach its “obligation to citizens to enfranchise their voting rights.”

“Year after year, we meet people who really are not plugged in or tuned into an election until really close to it, at which point it’s too late for people to register to vote,” he said. Allowing people to register on the day they vote would help combat this.

In 2017, the Senate passed a bill to allow registration through the end of early voting, but it failed when Democrat Rep. Debbie Rodella sided with Republicans on a House panel to block it.  

Rodella lost a primary election in June—and the House committee that deals with elections bills has a larger Democratic advantage—Steinborn is optimistic that this year, the bill  could make it to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s desk.

Still, he says it “boggles my mind” that Republicans oppose making  it easier for voters to participate.

“We continue to see this stark, political divide on voter empowerment,” he said.

In the House, Rep. Daymon Ely is sponsoring a same-day registration bill, which is part of a slate of bills related to voting he is pushing this year.

The Albuquerque Democrat called it a “game-changer” in an interview with NM Political Report and says it will solve a lot of other problems if it becomes law.

The proposal would allow voters to show up to the polls on Election Day, or through early voting, and register to vote. He said that technology has improved to allow county clerks to verify the eligibility of voters in real time.

“The more people that vote, the stronger our democracy,” Ely said. He said this would be an extension of the continuing expansion of voting rights in the United States, which initially only allowed white, male landowners to vote.

Currently, seventeen states allow same-day registration, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

But that’s not the only bill related to voting Ely is sponsoring this year.

Ely also wants to allow decline-to-state and minor party voters to participate in the major party primary of their choice. In other words: Open primaries.

“I love the idea of an open primary, I really do,” he said, especially since  so many young voters are now registering as decline-to-state voters, eschewing both  the Democratic and Republican parties.

“It’s my job as a Democrat to get more people involved in the [voting] process,” Ely said.

Is this the year that the efforts finally get over the hurdle?

“I’m very optimistic,” Ely said.

But he added, “I’m not making a prediction.”

State Sen. Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces, is the Senate sponsor of a same-day registration bill, which he says will help the state reach its “obligation to citizens to enfranchise their voting rights.”

“Year after year, we meet people who really are not plugged in or tuned into an election until really close to it, at which point it’s too late for people to register to vote,” he said. Allowing people to register on the day they vote would help combat this.

In 2017, the Senate passed a bill to allow registration through the end of early voting, but it failed when Democrat Rep. Debbie Rodella sided with Republicans on a House panel to block it.  

Rodella lost a primary election in June—and the House committee that deals with elections bills has a larger Democratic advantage—Steinborn is optimistic that this year, the bill  could make it to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s desk.

Still, he says it “boggles my mind” that Republicans oppose making  it easier for voters to participate.

“We continue to see this stark political divide on voter empowerment,” he said.

In the House, Rep. Daymon Ely is sponsoring a same-day registration bill, which is part of a slate of bills related to voting he is pushing this year.

The Albuquerque Democrat called it a “game-changer” in an interview with NM Political Report and says it will solve a lot of other problems if it becomes law.

The proposal would allow voters to show up to the polls on Election Day, or through early voting, and register to vote. He said that technology has improved to allow county clerks to verify the eligibility of voters in real time.

“The more people that vote, the stronger our democracy,” Ely said. He said this would be an extension of the continuing expansion of voting rights in the United States, which initially only allowed white, male landowners to vote.

But that’s not the only bill related to voting Ely is sponsoring this year.

Ely also wants to allow decline-to-state and minor party voters to participate in the major party primary of their choice. In other words: Open primaries.

“I love the idea of an open primary, I really do,” he said, especially since  so many young voters are now registering as decline-to-state voters, eschewing both  the Democratic and Republican parties.

“It’s my job as a Democrat to get more people involved in the [voting] process,” Ely said.

Is this the year that the efforts finally get over the hurdle?

“I’m very optimistic,” Ely said.

But he added, “I’m not making a prediction.”

Correction: This story originally quoted Jeff Steinboring as saying,
“We continue to see this dark, political divide on voter empowerment,” when he said a “stark political divide.”