In 2021, the New Mexico Legislature passed critical legislation to protect voter access on Native, tribal, and pueblo lands, which was a critical step forward to ensuring equal access to the polls for all eligible voters in the state. However, that was the only pro-voter initiative passed in the last two years. Although the Legislature seemed to make significant progress on restoration of rights in both 2021 and 2022, and almost made significant upgrades, including further improvements to Native voting rights and a back-end AVR system in 2022, those bills did not pass despite strong support from each legislative chamber. While the state implemented same-day registration and increased accessibility to the polls for tribal nations, we view the failure to pass key pro-voter reforms as a critical setback, which is why New Mexico received a B- on this year’s progress report.
Where New Mexico Started in 2020
- Automatic Voter Registration: Hard Stop
- Online Voter Registration: DMV ID
- Same-Day Registration: Yes
- Restoration of Rights: Parole and/or Probation Disenfranchisement
- Vote by Mail: No-Excuse
- Electronic Registration Information Center Member: Yes
- Early Voting Opportunities: Regular Ballot Early Voting
- ID Requirements: No Document Required
Relying on the Cost of Voting Index for New Mexico as of 2020, we considered the state a middle tier state for pre-existing voting policy and compared its 2021-22 activity against other middle tier states.
How Our Tier Compares:
2021: Two Years Ago
Over the course of the 2021 session, the New Mexico Legislature passed legislation to protect voter access on Native lands.
- H 231 institutes critically important protections for polling places sited on Indian nation, tribal, or pueblo lands. It prohibits abolishing or consolidating polling places on Indian nation, tribal, or pueblo lands at any time without written agreement from the Indian nation, tribe, or pueblo. During times of emergency, it offers Indian nations, tribes, and pueblos additional polling place protections. It bars changes to the days or times voting is offered on these lands without prior written agreement and it requires county clerks to provide alternate or mobile voting sites as well as Election Day polling sites on these lands if they are requested by the Indian nation, tribe, or pueblo.
- The Legislature seemed to make progress towards passing significant pro-voter reforms, including restoration of rights for formerly incarcerated individuals and an expanded automatic voter registration system. Unfortunately, the legislature was unable to pass either of these bills.
2022: This Past Year
At the start of the 2022 session, the New Mexico Legislature appeared to be on track to pass significant pro-voter legislation. Despite strong support from a coalition of New Mexico democracy organizations, as well as majority support in the House and significant support in the Senate, the Legislature failed to pass the New Mexico Voting Rights Act.
- S 8, the New Mexico Voting Rights Act, would have instituted back-end automatic voter registration at the DMV, expanded online voter registration opportunities, established a permanent absentee voter list, expanded Native voting access, automatically restored the right to vote for formerly incarcerated individuals upon release, and established an Election Day holiday.
- Although the legislature ultimately failed to pass pro-voter reforms, Governor Grisham and Secretary of State Toulouse Oliver remained strong champions for the New Mexico Voting Rights Act, in all its various versions, throughout the session.
- Same-day registration was successfully rolled out during the June primary with more than 10,000 new voters taking advantage of the option to register and vote on the same day.