Automatic voter registration bill dies in committee

A statue outside the Roundhouse in Santa Fe.

Heath Haussamen / NMPolitics.net

A statue outside the Roundhouse in Santa Fe.

Two Democrats joined with Republicans to kill a bill that would have automatically registered all eligible adults as voters when they obtain a New Mexico driver’s license.

Rep. Debbie Rodella, D-Española, questioned whether the bill was necessary when the Motor Vehicle Division can already offer eligible adults the chance to register to vote.

Republicans on Thursday evening moved to table the bill in the House Local Government, Elections, Land Grants and Cultural Affairs Committee. Rodella and a newly elected Democrat, Rep. Daymon Ely of Corrales, sided with Republicans to stop the proposal on a 5-2 vote.

Sponsored by Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero, D-Albuquerque, House Bill 28 had won backing from the secretary of state and good government groups such as the League of Women Voters.

Six other states have recently adopted similar programs, and voting rights advocates say automatic voter registration leads to a simpler, more inclusive election process.

They didn’t sway Rodella.

“People should choose for themselves whether they want to participate in the process or not,” she said.

Roybal Caballero said the process would still allow voters to opt out while ensuring voter registration records are more accurate. And legislative staff wrote in an analysis that the system Roybal Caballero proposed could be more efficient for state driver’s license offices because they would uniformly register everyone who is eligible.

But in an analysis of the bill, the Taxation and Revenue Department raised concerns that a breakdown in the process could leave some voters listed as unaffiliated when they might prefer to register with a party, potentially excluding them from participating in primary elections.

This article comes from The Santa Fe New Mexican. NMPolitics.net is paying for the rights to publish articles about the 2017 legislative session from the newspaper. Help us cover the cost by making a donation to NMPolitics.net. Contact Andrew Oxford at (505) 986-3093 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @andrewboxford.

This BBSNews article was syndicated from NMPolitics.net, and written by Heath Haussamen, NMPolitics.net. Read the original article here.