Lawmakers advocate for proposed bill to expand voting rights in NM

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SANTA FE, N.M. – Multiple lawmakers in New Mexico are looking to expand the state’s voting rights. KOB 4 spoke to advocates Tuesday who support this expansion.

The bill has not been officially been filed in the House yet, but New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver says this bill will have four main points to expand voting rights.

The first point is expanding access to the Native American communities by allowing them to use addresses of tribal buildings for absentee ballots, requiring translation services for Native voters, and increasing the number of ballot boxes on tribal lands.

“In the short 75 years that we have had the ability to vote there have been many barriers, and this bill is really progressive in terms of being able to expand that access, and sensible policy for how we accomplish that,” said Ahtza Chavez, executive director of NM Native Vote.   

Next, this bill would restore the voting rights of convicted felons as soon as they are released from jail.

“Right now the way the law is, there is a wait period requiring individuals to complete parole, and probation has become a barrier for many of us to preform civic engagement, and we know civic engagement reduces recidivism,” said Justin Allen with Inclusive Democracy at OLE. 

The last two points of the bill will address expanding access to absentee ballots for everyone, and automatic voter registration. Authors of this bill are expected to officially file it later this week.