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GOP senator runs the clock out on bill to expand voting rights

Sharer Filibuster Selfie
Screen shot of legislative live feed
Republican state Sen. Gay Kernan snaps a selfie with Republican state Sen. William Sharer towards the end of his nearly two-and-a-half-hour filibuster to block voting rights legislation backed by Democrats in the final hours of the 2022 30-day New Mexico legislative session.

With hours left in the 30-day legislative session, a bill to expand voting rights in New Mexico made it to the Senate floor, but stalled as Republican Sen. William Sharer ran down the clock.

Sharer’s filibuster was not the first procedural maneuver Senate Republicans employed to stop voting rights legislation from passing. Last week, they used a “call of the Senate” to keep Senate Bill 8 from being heard.

Then Democratic Rep. Damon Ely rolled key provisions into another election bill. Those included restoring voting rights upon release from prison, expanding Native voter protections, and creating a permanent absentee voter list. The amended bill would also make Election Day a school holiday, adjust the ballot drop box requirement to two per county, and protect election workers from intimidation.

Republicans in both chambers pushed back against the move, but Senate Bill 144 passed the House Thursday morning on a 39-30 vote, sending it to the Senate to approve the changes with just two hours left to hear it.

Sharer had already been speaking on the Senate Floor for nearly 20 minutes at that point, touching on a wide variety of mostly unrelated topics – from baseball to expensive hotdogs and the natural beauty of the Gila Wilderness – until the clock struck noon and the chamber adjourned.

Sec. of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver said in a statement Thursday that she was “extremely disappointed” in the GOP filibuster killing what she called a “critical bill” for voters and election administrators.

The Your New Mexico Government project is a collaboration between KUNM and New Mexico PBS with support from the Thornburg Foundation.

Nash Jones (they/them) is a general assignment reporter in the KUNM newsroom and the local host of NPR's All Things Considered (weekdays on KUNM, 5-7 p.m. MT). You can reach them at nashjones@kunm.org or on Twitter @nashjonesradio.
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