This week the New Mexico Business Coalition (NMBC) took to social media, public comment, and their email listserv to mislead the public about secure automatic voter registration, a key provision in HB4: The New Mexico Voting Rights Act. The NMBC took a page from election conspiracy theorists David and Erin Clements and Couy Griffin, and tried to pass themselves off as election experts, while it’s very clear they aren’t. Quite frankly, we’re not even sure they read the bill before sharing incorrect information. We’re not surprised by their wrong statements, a tactic the NMBC regularly employs.
We do want to set the record straight.
“Wow, I would love to have one less thing to update when I move! State agencies should talk to each other so New Mexicans don’t have to duplicate efforts. What’s the problem here?”
The New Mexico Voting Rights Act is a common sense voting bill that updates certain sections of election law. These updates reduce unnecessary barriers for eligible New Mexicans to register to vote and cast a ballot. Specifically, the updates to our secure automatic voter registration (SAVR) system is the provision that the NM Business Coalition has decided to attack.
So let’s talk about SAVR
Currently, NM has an automatic voter registration system already in use. Under current code, if you conduct a transaction at your MVD, you will be asked if you want to update your voter registration as well. If you say yes, then you sign another thing and off that info goes to the Secretary of State.
As you can imagine, most folx say “No,” not because they don’t want to be registered to vote, but rather because they are sick and tired of being in the MVD and want to get the heck out. The updates to SAVR would change this process to an opt-out, instead of the current opt-in.
If you’re a registered voter and you go to the MVD with updated information like a new address, your voter registration would be updated. if you’re not already registered to vote, and are eligible, you would be without an extra form to fill out. That’s one less thing to update and check off your list.
Think about it, when was the last time you went into the MVD to update something without a packet of paperwork (Social Security card, birth certificate, proof of citizenship or address, etc.)? Never right?
Later, you would receive a stamped postcard in the mail that would allow you to say, “No thanks, I don’t want to be registered to vote,” and if you don’t want to be registered, you send that back and you’re done.
While this update to SAVR wouldn’t force anyone to vote, it would make it a lot more efficient and secure for people who do.
We know you’re thinking to yourself, “Wow, I would love to have one less thing to update when I move! State agencies should talk to each other so New Mexicans don’t have to duplicate efforts. What’s the problem here?”
The problem is that the NMBC either did not actually read the bill or didn’t bother to understand it. These updates to secure automatic voter registration make automatic voter registration the most secure it can possibly be.
Eligibility & Secure Automatic Voter Registration
ONLY eligible voters in New Mexico will be registered to vote at the MVD or other state offices. This is because, whether applying for Medicaid or updating your info at the MVD, the amount of official paperwork you have to bring in to prove you are you is significant. Think about it, when was the last time you went into the MVD to update something without a packet of paperwork (Social Security card, birth certificate, proof of citizenship or address, etc.)? Never right?
Exactly. Updating this provision in the bill is the best way to protect non-citizens against error by automatically registering eligible voters who are already demonstrating their citizenship to an agency.
As in the current system, any non-citizen who provides proof of non-citizenship to the MVD is automatically filtered out, preventing erroneous registration. SAVR is the most secure way to ensure that someone who is not eligible to vote will not get registered to vote. Simple as that.
What’s NMBC’s Real Problem?
You are probably now asking yourself, “If it’s so secure, why is there push back from the NM Business Coalition?” The short answer is, by making this change, more people would be registered to vote. The more people that are registered to vote, the more people might actually vote. The more people that actually vote the more people vote for elected officials that work for New Mexicans, not against us.
The NM Business Coalition doesn’t like this because the clients they represent while lobbying DON’T want higher minimum wage. They DON’T want paid sick leave or paid family medical leave. They DON’T want more protections for hard-working New Mexicans. Because if all those things happened, businesses would no longer be able to exploit us and our labor.
The other argument that has come from the NMBC is that some people may not want to be registered to vote. That is completely true. If someone doesn’t want to be registered, all they have to do is send that postcard back, opting out. Similar to all the “unsubscribes” we have to do in our emails after using it to order something, but we didn’t want to be on the email list with updates and discounts.
We also want to remind you that the current number of people registered to vote versus the number of people who actually vote is significantly higher. In summary, just because someone is registered to vote, doesn’t mean they will or have to vote.
NMBC Cites Disinformation Mill
We don’t know about you but we’re really tired of election deniers and conspiracy theorists using their platforms to spread false information (the NMBC used The Federalist, a known, far right conspiracy theory “news” publication as a “citation”). By doing this, whether they mean to or not (and we’re pretty sure they mean to), they are effectively acting to suppress the votes of eligible New Mexicans.
Support NM Voting Rights Act
Now that you’re armed with the real information about how secure automatic voter registration works, help us out. Email your Senator and voice your support for SAVR and the entirety of HB4, the New Mexico Voting Rights Act.