January 7, 2022

Governor, SOS announce voting rights expansion package

New Mexico’s governor along with the state’s top elections official announced support for legislation that would protect and expand voting rights in the state.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver announced their backing on Thursday, less than two weeks before the start of the state’s 2022 regular legislative session. The announcement also came on the anniversary of the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, when supporters of former President Donald Trump attempted to stop the certification of electoral votes.

The voting rights package proposed by Lujan Grisham and Toulouse Oliver would expand online registration for voters, provide increased support for Native American residents and create a permanent absentee ballot list for those who request to be added.

The proposal will include a number of changes to the absentee voting process, including expanding when mailed-in ballots could be received from the end of voting on Election Day to the Friday after Election Day, something already in place in other states.

“On this somber anniversary of the January 6 Capitol insurrection, an anti-democratic attempt to overturn a free and fair election, we are reminded that it is more important than ever to safeguard access to the ballot box,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement. “While voting rights are under attack across the country, New Mexico is taking every action to protect and expand them.”

“Even as we’ve seen attempts around the country to make voting more difficult for eligible voters, here in New Mexico we continue to be a leader in how to balance the demands for voter access with the needs of maintaining our high levels of election security,” Toulouse Oliver said. 

The legislation would expand early voting through the Sunday before Election Day. Early voting currently ends on the Saturday before Election Day. It would also designate Election Day as a state holiday. 

The proposal would also expand absentee voter efforts. For example, it would create a permanent absentee voter list that would allow those who chose to vote with absentee ballots each election to do so without the need to request an absentee ballot for each election. For another, it would extend the timeline for mailing ballots to 35 days before an election—and allow absentee ballots received by the Friday after Election Day to be valid, to allow for mail delivery.

For Indigenous voters, the proposal would expand the timeline for tribes, pueblos and Indigenous nations to request alternative voting sites.

The bill would also allow for voters to choose a straight ticket option, which Toulouse Oliver attempted to do so administratively in 2018, which was rejected by the state Supreme Court

The proposal would also allow 16-year old New Mexicans to vote in local elections.

Lujan Grisham’s support for the legislation is particularly important this year.

This year’s legislative session is a 30-day session devoted to budget issues. Any bills not related to budget issues must be put on the call by the governor to be discussed by the Legislature.