Election Reform

common-causeCommon Cause is the lobbying organization with whom Retake Our Democracy is partnering to track six bills. See below. To obtain alerts on bills endorsed by Common cause contact Heather Ferguson at HFerguson@commoncause.orgClick here for the link to their updated alerts is

Disclosure of Presidential Taxes.

HB204   (Louis,Chasey)               DISCLOSURE OF PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE TAXES

Committees to hear: House Local Government, Elections, Land Grants & Cultural Affairs; House Judiciary.

SB118    (Candelaria)    DISCLOSURE OF PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE TAXES

Committees to hear:  Senate Rules; Senate Judiciary

Bill Summary: Requires that a candidate for president or vice-president of the United States must file copies of the candidate’s federal income tax returns for the five most recent taxable years with the secretary of state before being placed on the ballot in NM, and must give permission for the public release of those returns.

The proposed disclosure legislation has passed the Senate FOUR times (the last three unanimously), as well as all House committees in prior years. This bill will overhaul the current law to bring it in line with both recent constitutional rulings and modern campaign practices by :

  • Requiring public disclosure of information about the campaign spending of PACs and other non-candidate campaign participants without crossing constitutional boundaries established by the courts
  • Requiring independent groups to disclose contributions and expenditures

Why this legislation is important to New Mexicans:

  • 92% of New Mexico voters support requiring that all large political contributions be made public
  • 63% of New Mexico voters support contribution limits for candidates

Ethics Commission.

House Joint Resolution 8 – HJR 8 (Dines, Steinborn, Small and McCamley).

New Mexico is one of only nine states without an ethics commission. Proposed legislation will amend the constitution to create an Independent State Ethics Commission to:

  • Oversee the conduct of state officers, employees, campaign finance reporting, contractors and lobbyists
  • Serve as a resource for officials to get guidance on issues and provide ethics training

The vast majority of elected officials in New Mexico are hard-working, ethical people who want the best for our state. Creating an independent ethics commission is a simple way to build voters’ trust in their government.

Why this legislation is important to New Mexicans:

  • 64% of voters think elected officials are more responsive to lobbyists than voters
  • 79% of voters believe corruption in New Mexico politics is a problem

Independent Commission to Conduct Redistricting.

House Joint Resolution 3–HJR 3 (Trujillo,O’Neill)  INDEPENDENT REDISTRICTING COMMISSION (Constitutional Amendment)

Committees to hear this bill: House State Government, Indian & Veterans’ Affairs; House Local Government, Elections, Land Grants & Cultural Affairs; House Judiciary

Bill Summary:  Provides for an independent Redistricting Commission to determine congressional districts, state legislative districts and the districts of other state districted offices. An appellate judges nominating committee selects a pool of 20 persons from among applicants (no more than 8 from any party) and four commissioners are chosen by the majority and minority leaders of the NM House and Senate (no ore than 2 from any party).  Those commissioners chose a fifth member from the pool, who serves as chair.

This will establish written criteria for re-drawing district boundaries and require a fair and transparent process for conducting redistricting. The drawing of electoral districts is not transparent and all too often, there is no public participation. The resulting districts can often serve the political interests of the people who draw them, rather than the interests of the people being represented.

Why this legislation is important to New Mexicans:  When voters feel that their input doesn’t matter, they stop participating. Seeing incumbents win time and again because districts are rigged to stifle competition creates a sense of incumbent inevitability and creates a disconnection between citizens and their elected officials. This combination of disenfranchisement and low voter participation is toxic to our democracy.

Automatic Voter Registration

HB 28     (Caballero)        DRIVER’S LICENSE AUTOMATIC VOTER REGISTRATION 

Committees to hear this bill:  House Consumer & Public Affairs; House Local Government, Elections, Land Grants & Cultural Affairs

Bill Summary:  Provides for automatic voter registration when a person applies for or renews their driver’s license or changes their address, unless they choose to opt out.

Automatic Voter Registration is a process states are adopting to update our current paper-based system with a new electronic system that creates a secure database to automatically identify and register all eligible Americans to vote. The secure database actively updates voter registration information when people apply for or renew their driver’s license or when they change their address.

  • Technology has dramatically changed the way we live. Unfortunately, our outdated paper-based system of voting hasn’t kept up with the times. An electronic automatic voter registration system would use a secure database to ensure that those who are ineligible to vote will not be able to take advantage of an insecure system.
  • Automatic Voter Registration will protect the fundamental right of every American, regardless of party, to have their vote counted. And it will ensure that those who encounter barriers to voting – veterans, active military, senior citizens, and people with disabilities – are able to participate fully in our democracy.
  • Each year, millions of voter paper registration forms are manually entered into a database. Too often, mistakes happen that deny eligible American citizens their right to vote. 

This is a critical initiative as the number of voters registered as decline-to-state (“DTS”} or Independent has tripled since 1982, from 7% of total registered voters to nearly 22% of total registered voters. Even more telling is the party affiliation of younger voters – more voters aged 18 to 24 are registered as a DTS or Independent than with either major party in New Mexico, a clear signal that younger voters are turned off by partisan politics.

Why this legislation is important to New Mexicans: Every vote should count in New Mexico, and by excluding such a large number of registered voters, we are denying them the right to participate in our democracy. New Mexicans are tired of partisan gridlock in Congress and in Santa Fe, and that is demonstrated most clearly by the rise in the number of voters who do not join one of the two major parties. Opening the primary election to all registered voters can help combat the apathy many people feel and help move towards engaging them in the public debate surrounding issues that are important to our citizens.

Note: I could not locate an introduced bill for Open Primaries.

National Popular Vote Compact

SB 42    (Stewart)           AGREEMENT TO ELECT PRESIDENT BY POPULAR VOTE

SB 54    (Cisneros)         AGREEMENT TO ELECT PRESIDENT BY POPULAR VOTE

(Not clear what the difference is between these two bills)

Committees to hear these bills:  Senate Rules; Senate Judiciary

Bills would have NM join the “Agreement Among the States to Elect the President by National Popular Vote”.  States agree that their electors will all support the winner of the national popular vote for president.

The National Popular Vote Compact would require NM to cast its Electoral College votes to the winner of the national popular vote in presidential elections regardless of who wins in NM. This requirement would become effective only once enough states enter the compact that have a combined total of at least 270 electoral votes, which is the number needed to win the presidential election.