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HB 4 Is Good for Voters and Democracy

Santa Fe New Mexican — As former public officials committed to promoting democracy and voter access, we urge support for House Bill 4, the New Mexico Voting Rights Act. One of the many excellent features of this legislation is the improved access to ballots, particularly for rural, tribal and underrepresented communities.

Currently, New Mexico voters may vote absentee without needing to provide an excuse. However, there is an increasing movement in states with no-excuse absentee ballots to allow “single sign-up” or “permanent-absentee” provisions, whereby voters can opt in to that model for all elections, without having to request mailed ballots over and over.

Seven states provide this opt in permanent-absentee option. Eight other states plus the District of Columbia go a step further, automatically sending a vote-at-home ballot for each election to all registered voters, who can then mail or drop it off at secure locations.

Both the opt in permanent-absentee and universal vote-at-home systems are a huge convenience for voters, who don’t have to remember to sign up for absentee ballots for each election.

There is also a cost savings when public officials don’t have to process absentee ballot requests from many of the same voters, election after election, year after year.

Most importantly, improving access to ballots increases voter participation.

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