The House voted down a bill sought to modernize the Campaign Reporting Act. SB 42 sought to simplify campaign reporting compliance for some elected officials and to provide more sunshine on campaign finances. The bill failed on 33-36 vote. Legislators debate portions of the bill that would change the way loans to candidates from family members would be reported. There were questions about how the difference between a loan from a family member to help fix a home issue such as plumbing or roofing was different from a loan toward the candidates campaigning.
There was also discussion about the restricted times during legislative sessions when a legislator may receive a donation through the mail but not cash it until after the legislative session concluded.
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.
The House Judiciary Committee unanimously passed an update to the Campaign Finance Act. SB 42 seeks to simplify campaign reporting compliance for some elected officials and to provide more transparency on campaign finances. Amended to include HB 103, bill presenter and HB 103 co-sponsor Rep. Matthew McQueen, D-Galisteo, said SB 42 was previously a disclosure bill. The addition of HB 103 adds a modernization effort to align campaign finance reporting with the modern election process. “Senate Bill 42 requires out of state groups making independent expenditures of $5,000 or more to disclose the source of those funds.
The House of Representatives approved amendments made by the Senate to a bill expanding the state Election Code on a 42-25 vote Monday. This is the final step for the bill before it goes to the governor’s desk. HB 4 would expand automatic voter registration, restore convicted felons’ right to vote upon release from prison, create a voluntary permanent absentee voter list, and enact the Native American Voting Rights Act to the state Election Code. One of the Senate amendments to the bill is a definition of incarceration. “‘Correctional facility’ means a jail, prison or other detention facility that is used for the confinement of an adult, whether operated by the state or a political subdivision of the state or a private contractor on behalf of the state or a political subdivision of the state,” the bill states.
The House floor approved a bill on a 62-1 vote to make it a fourth degree felony to intimidate election workers such as poll workers and county clerks and other election employees. The bill would expand the state’s election code to include the penalties. There was no debate on the bill. SB 43 passed the Senate unanimously. More: Bill prohibiting intimidation of election officials moves to House floor
“SB 43 amends the election code to make intimidation of an election official a felony.
Legislation that aims to update the state’s Election Code passed the House Judiciary Committee on a 6-4 vote on Saturday. 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: Election code update passes Senate
The bill was discussed but not voted on during a Friday afternoon HJC meeting with discussion continuing during the Saturday, March 11 meeting. “These changes are absolutely necessary for the conduct of elections,” Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver said. The bill is similar to the Voting Rights Act, HB 4, which is a policy bill while SB 180 is a technical bill, Toulouse Oliver said.
A bill that makes intimidating election officials a felony passed in the House Judiciary Committee on a 10-0 vote. SB 43 would expand the state Election Code’s scope by making it a fourth-degree felony to intimidate election workers such as poll workers and county clerks and other election employees. “Under current law, if someone is a voter or a watcher or a challenger, and someone seeks to intimidate them, tries to induce fear using threatened use of force, violence, infliction of harm or loss or any form of economic retaliation for the purpose of impeding their free elective franchise or the impartial administration of the electric code that is a fourth degree felony,” bill sponsor Sen. Katy Duhigg, D-Albuquerque, said. “What this bill does is it extends those same protections to the people who are actually running our elections: the Secretary of State’s office, their employees and agents, or county clerks, or municipal clerks and their employees and agents.”
More: Bill making intimidation of election officials a felony moves to Senate floor
The bill’s origin comes from a wave of threats of violence against election workers, including threats to Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver.
The bill passed the Senate unanimously on Feb. 16.
The House approved HB 399, which seeks to require counties with 35,000 or more people to expand their county commissions to five members, on Thursday by a vote of 40-28.
Only three counties would be affected by the bill should it pass: Otero, McKinley and Rio Arriba counties. “Thank you for the very strong-minded debate and the urgency that we all are coming to recognize,” bill co-sponsor Rep. Willie Madrid, D-Chaparral, said. “I have to say in closing, you know, when we talk about the statutes and listen to the discussion today, it was a start of the will of the people. They have to be a part of this.”
Commission districts must be equally distributed based on population alone. The county commissioner boards draw the new district maps, bill co-sponsor Rep. Susan Herrera, D-Embudo, said.
A bill that seeks to update the state’s Election Code and make it easier for New Mexicans to vote passed the Senate on a 27 to 14 party line vote after a lengthy debate. HB 4, the Voting Rights Act, would expand automatic voter registration, restore convicted felons’ right to vote upon release from prison, create a voluntary permanent absentee voter list, and enact the Native American Voting Rights Act to the state Election Code. “Our democracy, our sacred right to vote is under threat and this requires a strong community driven response. That’s why this bill is before this body today,” Sen. Katy Duhigg said. Duhigg, a Democrat from Albuquerque, described the bill, and focused on the Native American Voting Rights Act.
A bill aspiring to update the statute on procedures for filling legislative vacancies was unanimously approved in the House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee on Wednesday. HB 538 is sponsored by committee chairwoman D. Wonda Johnson, a Democrat from Albuquerque. The bill was presented by Rep. Janelle Anyononu, D-Albuquerque and state Sen. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque, presented the bill. “This essentially codifies what is done 90 percent of the time. It does not apply to rural counties.