March 14, 2023

Bill updating election code passes House

The state House of Representatives approved a bill that updates the state Election Code on a 44-25 vote.

SB 180 requests an update the state’s Election Code including specifying when the Inspection of Public Records Act, or IPRA, can be used for election information, allowing electronic nominating petition signatures, creating an election security program, requiring training for election challengers and watchers, revising requirements for the impoundment of ballots, audits, voting machine rechecks and recounts, revising election-related crimes and authorizing taxpayer information to be revealed to the secretary of state for purposes of maintaining voter registration records.

More: Bill updating Election Code heads to House floor

Debate on the House floor included questions from opponents about how safe drop boxes are and whether the closed circuit video from the drop boxes are subject to inspection under the state’s open records law, as well as questions about how electronic signatures for candidate nominating petitions can be used as well as paper petitions with personal signatures.

Majority Floor Leader Gail Chasey said while presenting the bill that no ballot boxes are connected to the internet which has been a worry by those who falsely claim the 2020 presidential election results were not accurate. 

More than 60 lawsuits were filed contesting election counting processes. These lawsuits either failed, were dropped or are ongoing.

One of the cases was the U.S. Supreme Court case Kelly, Mike, et al. v. Pennsylvania, et al. which resulted in the December 8, 2020 U.S. Supreme Court decision against Pennsylvania Republicans challenging the election’s results.

The U.S. Supreme Court decision offered no analysis stating only that “The application for injunctive relief presented to Justice Alito and by him referred to the Court is denied.”

SB 180 is a technical bill while a similar bill, the Voting Rights Act, HB 4, is about policy.

The belief that the election should have gone to the candidate who came in second, then President Donald Trump led to further discord including the January 6, 2021 Capitol Attack, which some have termed an insurrection due the intent of disrupting the 2020 General Election’s certification. Five people died during the attack including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick

“The commonsense protections in HB 4 will protect and expand access to the ballot box for all eligible New Mexicans, so they can exercise their constitutional right to vote,” the New Mexico House Democrats tweeted after the bill’s passing.  

SB 180 now goes to the governor’s desk for final approval. HB 4 is also awaiting the governor’s approval.