March 14, 2023

STATEMENT: IRG Praises New Mexico For Passage of the Voting Rights Act

For Immediate Release:
March 14, 2023

Mike Clement,

SANTA FE — Last night, the New Mexico Legislature passed House Bill 4, the New Mexico Voting Rights Act of 2023 (NMVRA). Late on Wednesday, the Senate passed the bill with an amendment by a vote of 27 to 14, sending the bill back to the House for a concurrence vote — the bill originally passed the New Mexico House of Representatives in late February. The bill now heads to Governor Lujan Grisham’s desk for signature.

HB4 includes common-sense voting protections, including:

  • Establishing critical upgrades to the state’s secure automatic voter registration system (SAVR) to streamline eligible voter information across state agencies;
  • The automatic restoration of voting rights for formerly incarcerated individuals;
  • Improved Native protections, including standardized early voting on tribal lands, increased collaboration between tribal leaders and election clerks, and guaranteed resources for polling places;
  • A permanent option for eligible voters to vote by mail;
  • Enhanced voter data privacy;
  • Designating Election Day as a school holiday.

Sam Oliker-Friedland, executive director of the Institute for Responsive Government, issued the following statement:

“Today’s passage of HB4 is a historic step for the New Mexico Legislature and all New Mexicans. This legislation will help build a more efficient, secure and inclusive elections process. In effect, all eligible New Mexicans, regardless of their background, geography or demographics, will have the opportunity to exercise their freedom to vote. After all, our democracy works best when all eligible voters can have their voices heard.

“Upgrading to a secure automatic voter registration system (SAVR) in New Mexico will substantially increase voter registration — in Colorado, similar improvements doubled the state’s registration rate at the DMV. With these upgrades, New Mexico stands to add an estimated 473,000 unregistered eligible citizens to their voter rolls, a strong sign that SAVR has the potential to more than double the turnout effect of the state’s current system. By modernizing and streamlining elections in New Mexico, these commonsense improvements will also help ensure that traditionally disenfranchised voters — including formerly incarcerated individuals, members of our tribal communities, and those who may live in the rural stretches of the state — have the freedom to fully participate in our democratic process without barriers.

“Congratulations to the numerous local supporting organizations on the ground in New Mexico, bill sponsors Speaker Martinez and Senator Duhigg, bill cosponsors Representatives Chasey, Lara, and Johnson, and Senator O’Neill, government leadership including Senators Wirth and Stewart, and Secretary of State Toulouse Oliver who all played such a critical role in getting the NMVRA passed. We also wanted to give a shout out to Senators Hamblen, Pope, and Jaramillo for championing the restoration of rights portion of the bill. 

“This legislation can serve as an example to the rest of the nation: this is what safe, secure, and accessible elections should look like in our country.” 

To speak with IRG subject matter experts about the New Mexico Voting Rights Act, please contact