Restoring Voting Rights to People who were formerly incarcerated
Senate Bill 8
Sponsored by Senators Peter Wirth, Katy Duhigg, Harold Pope, Carrie Hamblen, and Representative Javier Martínez, Senate Bill 8 is a sweeping expansion of voting rights and ballot access, including restoring the right to vote to the formerly incarcerated upon release, along with several other priorities laid out by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver.
News & Updates
Watch this space for updates on the bill as it progresses through the 30-day session.
1/6/22 — Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Sec. of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver announced their priorities for the expansion of voting rights and ballot access in the state of New Mexico. “Automatically restoring the voting rights of those convicted of a felony who are not currently incarcerated” is on this list of priorities.
1/18/22 — The 2022 Regular Session of the New Mexico State Legislature begins.
1/25/22 — Senate Bill 8 is introduced on the Senate Floor and referred to the Senate Rules and Senate Finance committees. It is on the Senate Rules Committee agenda for Monday 1/31/22. Contact members of the Senate Rules Committee.
1/26/22 — The NM Political Report publishes a story on this important measure in Senate Bill 8. Click here to read it.
1/25/22 — Senate Bill 8 is introduced on the Senate Floor and referred to the Senate Rules committee (SRC) and Senate Finance Committee (SFC). It is on the SRC agenda for Monday 1/31/22. Contact members of the Senate Rules Committee.
1/31/22 — The SRC’s updated agenda pushes SB 8 to Wednesday, 2/2/22 at 9am.
2/2/22 — The Senate Rules Committee used up 3+ hours on one confirmation hearing before hearing SB 8. With so little time left, SRC Chair Senator Daniel Ivey-Soto opted to hear only 2 public comments and took a poll of the room. Dozens of advocates of the bill were waiting patiently in the room and on Zoom to testify, but the meeting adjourned around 1pm.
2/3/22 — The SRC has promised to hear public comment on SB 8 tomorrow / Friday 2/4/22 starting at 9am.
2/4/22 — 9:30am: In a marathon hearing in the SRC, dozens of people testified in favor of the bill, and our opposition also rallied people against it. There were no time limits or sign up requirements to comment via Zoom. Chair Sen. Ivey-Soto insisted that advocates of SB 8 asked for this. We asked to be heard; we did not ask for a hearing with no rules or limits. The SRC ceased the comment period and recessed at 1:30pm for 1 hour.
2/4/22 — 2:50pm: SRC finally discusses and debates SB 8, introducing and voting on multiple amendments to remove different measures in the bill. Rights restoration survived this process, #16vote did not. SRC adjourned and scheduled the final vote for Monday 2/7/22 at 9am.
2/7/22 — The SRC introduced a committee substitute to include all the amendments made on Friday. It was suggested that the bill should also be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC) in addition to Senate Finance (SFC). The bill passed with this recommendation. All 7 Democrats voted in favor, all 4 GOP against.
2/9/22 — The Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC) began with a committee substitute from Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto which removed several key provisions in the bill, including back-end automatic voter registration, and election day as a state holiday. After considerably amending this substitute, SB 8 passed and was sent to SFC. All 6 Democrats voted in favor, all 3 GOP against. Advocates are notably upset that the bill has now been stripped of many of its most important provisions.
2/10/22 — The Senate Finance Committee (SFC) quietly passed SB 8. The bill now heads to the Senate Floor, and is expected to be heard on Saturday, 2/11/22. Please write your senators and express your support of the original #NMVotingRightsAct. Ask that they consider reinstating the measures that were amended out by Sen. Ivey-Soto. Click here to email every legislator and urge them to pass SB 8!
2/11/22 — The Senate quickly passed the committee sub of SB 8. The Sen. Brandt made a Call of the Senate on the Senate floor. With Sens. Schmedes and Candelaria missing, it effectively blocked the bill.
2/15/22 — 9am: Some provisions of SB 8, as well as SB 6, may be amended onto another election bill, SB 144, and will be heard in the House Judiciary Committee at 1:30pm. Write to the HJC members and urge them to reconsider adding more of SB 8 into this bill!
2/15/22 — 2pm: The large amendment to SB 144 (adding many provisions of SB 6 and SB 8) was proposed in the HJC. It includes a simplified version of rights restoration that we strongly support (rather than un-register a voter upon a felony conviction and re-register them upon release, the voter would remain registered to vote but would simply not be allowed to vote while incarcerated. After hearing public comment, going through the now-much-larger bill, and discussing, the HJC passed SB 144 as amended.
The bill now awaits a vote on the House Floor. Please contact your Representative to ask them to support SB 144.
2/16/22 — Wednesday: We expect the House to hear SB 144 at some point tonight and we await its passage. Please contact your Representative to ask them to support SB 144!
❝ Filibuster is a monument to white supremacy. It’s a relic from the Jim Crow era. Voting rights is the issue of this legislation. Fighting it is the legacy of segregation. ❞
2/17/22 — Thursday 10am: After an all-nighter in the House, SB 144 was taken up early this morning, discussed (filibustered) for the maximum of 3 hours, and passed the House at 9:50am. The Senate must concur, and it is unclear whether there will be enough time to do so before the session ends at 12 noon.
2/17/22 — Thursday 12pm: Knowing the voting rights bill needed only a concurrence voice vote in the Senate, Senator Sharer chose to end this session with a filibuster in the Senate, effectively running out the clock to prevent SB 144 from crossing the finish line. The 2022 Regular Legislative session has adjourned.
After this shameful act of obstructionism from the NM GOP, we urge Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham to call a special session to take up the issues of voting rights and ballot access. Our democracy deserves dedicated and unrestricted time and attention.
Contact the Governor’s office to urge her not to give up on voting rights!
Voting Rights Restoration
In New Mexico, people with felony convictions lose their right to vote. After release from incarceration, they must complete probation and/or parole, pay all associated fees, and obtain documents proving such, before being allowed to register to vote again. Often this involves multiple trips to multiple agencies to obtain the correct paperwork, putting an unnecessary burden on these citizens to get their rights restored. These barriers to the polls suppress the voices of these citizens.
Probation and parole are periods of time meant to reintegrate back into society. The ability to participate in elections is an important component of that. Fines and restitutions should not be a pre-requisite to voting, as this amounts to a poll tax. No one should be denied the right to vote due to financial circumstances.
Senate Bill 8 will restore voter registration to the formerly incarcerated, automatically upon release.
Progress in the 2021 Legislative Session
1/11/21- House Bill 74, sponsored by Gail Chasey, is introduced and referred to the House State Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee (HSEIC) and the House Judiciary Committee (HJC).
▶️ Town Hall Livestream Event! 2/18/21 5:30pm
We heard from a panel of people who have firsthand experience navigating the current broken system of disenfranchisement, and we discussed why this bill is important to our state’s democracy.
Panelists: Alyssa Luna, Justin Allen, Kelly Garcia, Fernando Trujillo & David Reza. Moderator: Leila Salim.
1/27/21: HB74 passed the HSEIC by a vote of 6-3.
2/3/21: HJC amended the bill and passed it by a vote of 6-4.
2/11/21: House of Representatives discussed the bill on the House Floor for three hours, adopted a minor amendment, denied another amendment, then passed the bill by a vote of 44-24.
The bill now awaits scheduling in the Senate Rules Committee.
2/18/21: Town Hall Livestream event. Watch the recording!
- Dēmos Research Brief, 2003: Democracy Denied: The Racial History and Impact of Disenfranchisement Laws in the United States
- Sentencing Project, Jean Chung, 2019: Felony Disenfranchisement: A Primer
Washington Post, Bozelko & Lo, 2020: Five myths about felony disenfranchisement
- The Center for Nuleadership on Urban Solutions: On the Question of Language
- Justin Allen, 2020: Abolish Human Silencing: Gender Equality, Racial Equity and Reparations