When progressive elected officials start throwing around phrases like “increasing voters’ rights,” “protecting our democracy” and “ensuring access to the ballot box,” we should expect soon to follow highly partisan and questionable “reforms” in how our elections are conducted.

Recently, Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who is running for reelection with disappointing poll numbers, announced numerous proposed election law changes that can only be described as real doozies in terms of giving New Mexico Democratic Party candidates enhanced opportunities for guaranteed electoral success in the November general election.

With less than two weeks before the Legislature convenes for a 30-day session that traditionally addresses mostly budget issues, the governor and the secretary of state suddenly declared New Mexico’s elections must be fundamentally changed. They proclaimed we must allow 16-year-olds to vote in local elections, that it’s OK for convicted child rapists and murderers to vote, and it is perfectly acceptable to count mail-in ballots received three days after Election Day.

But that is not all. They also said we must provide automatic absentee ballots by mail to voters even if not requested and permit people to register to vote without a state-issued identification card.

These proposed changes, which the governor will require the Legislature to consider during the upcoming session, are clear examples that Democrats in New Mexico are no longer trying to hide their disrespect for voting integrity and security. Further, everything they are proposing does two things: It implies the electorate is either too stupid or too lazy to vote, and it is intentionally trying to delegitimize our election system. Why else would such enhanced voter fraud provisions be considered 10 months before the next election?

It is fair to wonder if these “voters’ rights” proposals are being considered now because there is growing evidence New Mexico voters are starting to wake up to how one-party control has had such a stranglehold on our always-last public schools, our reduced standard of living and a growing lack of employment opportunities for our children and grandchildren.

If progressive Democrats were so confident in their policies and how New Mexico is managed, they would never make such a drastic attempt to disrupt our voting system.

Participating in our electoral process and exercising the right to vote are fundamental to our country’s representative form of government. In turn, policymakers should be doing everything possible to strengthen it, secure it, while also ensuring those with difficulties getting to the ballot box be given every opportunity to vote.

Yet, what the governor and secretary of state are proposing is nothing less than a cynical power grab to help ensure Democratic candidates are less likely to be defeated at the polls at a time when progressive policies have become increasingly unpopular. Sadly, this effort to further erode confidence in our elections will only result in creating even greater division within our state and nation.

State Rep. Rachel Black of Alamogordo represents House District 51. She is a Republican.

(2) comments

Richard Irell

Here is what MLG proposes. See how many deliberate obfuscations (otherwise known as lies) Rachel Black (R) is telling.

Increasing voter access by extending the early voting period through the Sunday before Election Day, designating Election Day as a state holiday, and allowing 16 year-olds to participate in local elections;

Creating a permanent absentee voter list that allows individuals to voluntarily receive mail ballots for each election without needing to make individual requests;

Expanding online voter registration opportunities by allowing individuals without MVD-issued ID to register online using their full social security number;

Extending the timeline for mailing ballots to voters to 35 days before an election and extending the deadline for accepting voted ballots to 7 p.m. the Friday after an election to accommodate for mail delivery time;

Supporting Native voting access by expanding the timeline for indigenous nations, tribes, and pueblos to request alternate voting sites;

Improving automatic voter registration by adopting a system that provides a mechanism for eligible individuals to become automatically registered to vote upon completing a transaction at the Motor Vehicle Department;

Enabling nominating petition signatures to be securely submitted electronically;

Automatically restoring the voting rights of those convicted of a felony who are not currently incarcerated; and

Creating an option to vote a straight party ballot.

Stefanie Beninato

Of course you are a Republican repeating all the false arguments against voter reform. Exactly what is wrong with allowing a longer early voting period or making sure there are enough polling places on the Navajo Nation? Only a Republican bent on destroying democracy would cry wolf on these issues.

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