Revived voting rights bill that failed last year heads to the House floor
Some major changes to New Mexico's elections are heading to a vote in the state House.
House Bill 4 would allow New Mexicans to sign up to get ballots for every election via mail. It would create a system for automatic voter registration. It would also turn Election Day into a school holiday.
A similar bill made it to the Senate floor last year after passing the House but died during a filibuster by Sen. William Sharer, R-Farmington.
This time around House Republicans raised concerns during a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee on Monday about a provision that would restore the voting rights of people convicted of felonies when they leave prison, rather than waiting until they have completed all the conditions of a sentence.
Minority Leader Ryan Lane, R-Aztec, called it a philosophical change in the state's laws about who can vote.
"And I guess I don’t understand why we’re ok with someone being registered who has committed a felony and as a nation we’ve agreed, or at least we have historically, that there are certain consequences that come with that behavior," Lane said.
But Judiciary Committee Chair Christine Chandler, a Democrat from Los Alamos, argued elections impact everyone, including people who are re-entering the community after a prison term.
"I think this is all part of a system that I hope will improve integration of people who made mistakes in their lives, served in prison and can now become active participants in our society," Chandler said.
The House Judiciary Committee advanced the bill on a party line vote of 7 to 4.
It heads next to a vote of the full house.
This reporting was supported by America Amplified, an initiative funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting