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New Mexico

New Mexico has made some progress since the pandemic began in improving their mail voting system and should make these changes permanent. Additionally, New Mexico can further improve by taking the next big step in access by creating a permanent absentee list. As always, we stress that policy is important, but it is just as important that it is implemented well.

As of 2021....

No Excuse Required

No Excuse Required

No excuse to vote by mail

Online Mail Ballot Application

Online Mail Ballot Application

Apply for mail ballot online

Robust Ballot Return Option

Robust Ballot Return Option

U.S. mail, drop boxes, vote centers, and more

Prepaid Postage

Prepaid Postage

Postage-paid return envelopes provided

Election Day Postmark Acceptance

Election Day Postmark Acceptance

Accepts ballots postmarked by Election Day

Ballot Tracking

Ballot Tracking

Online method to check ballot status

Signature Verification

Signature Verification

Voter signature verified before ballot is counted

Cure Process

Cure Process

Ability to correct issues so ballot can be counted

Preprocessing

Preprocessing

Election official may process ballot before Election Day

Opportunities

New Mexico can reduce costs and increase voter convenience by creating a permanent absentee voting list, where voters can sign up to automatically be sent an absentee ballot for each election without having to re-apply. On average, states save $1 for every request they no longer need to process.
In the event that a voter’s ballot is rejected, said voter should have the ability to cure their ballot quickly and simply. New Mexico created a temporary cure process to give voters their ability, but it will expire at the end of 2021. New Mexico should make the cure process permanent for all future elections and can improve upon it by ensuring the period voters can cure their ballots extends to 5 days after election day and implementing a Text2Cure system that allows voters to cure their ballots from their phones.
New Mexico can increase local autonomy by permanently allowing counties to choose to conduct their elections by mail. This reduces costs dramatically, particularly for low-turnout local elections and in rural areas, and often increases turnout as well.
As use of absentee ballots increases, it is important to make sure that the ballots received are being filled out by the individuals they were sent to. Signature verification procedures ensure the security of the election process while also streamlining ballot processing.
Expanding same day voter registration to include election day would improve upon New Mexico’s ability to ensure that any eligible resident who wasn’t automatically registered and wants to cast a ballot in an election can.
Ballot tracking software such as Ballot Scout or BallotTrax can be a very cost-effective tool to improve New Mexico’s current ballot tracking and increase voter confidence by allowing voters to track their ballot much like an Amazon package. It also adds a layer of data for the elections office who can also track the ballots to make sure they have reached their destination. Furthermore, these tools can be used as another modality to contact voters if there is a signature mismatch or deficiency on their return envelope.
We highly recommend that New Mexico continue its expansion of vote centers, where all polling locations allow any voter in the county to vote. This can streamline the system so over time, as the share of the vote cast by mail increases, counties can have fewer overall polling locations, while individual voters will have more voting location options.
Accepting ballots with Election Day postmarks is a best practice to ensure that voters are given all options to vote their ballot in a timely manner, as it’s estimated in most jurisdictions to decrease ballot rejection rates by half. We recommend that not only does a state allow the physical postmark on a ballot, but also to integrate into the USPS system for electronic postmarks to serve as validation that a ballot was mailed on time.

Recent Legislation

As of May 19, 2021

In response to the pandemic, New Mexico passed SB 4 which had a variety of pro-voter reforms, including creating a temporary cure process, turning all voting locations into vote centers (locations where voters from any part of the county can vote), and permanently adding prepaid postage for absentee ballots. 10 countries took advantage of the temporary law to send absentee applications to all voters. It also allowed counties to hold the 2020 general election by mail, but only if they met a variety of criteria and went through a long and difficult process. In essence, there were too many restrictions in the emergency plan for counties to realistically go about obtaining permission. In 2021, the legislature temporarily extended the cure process and vote center expansion to the end of 2021 for any special elections that may come up to replace representatives, but left out allowing counties to host their elections by mail.