Commentary: Santa Fe – Today, a bill to expand Native American voting access advanced in the House State Government, Elections, and Indian Affairs Committee. House Bill 249, sponsored by Rep. Derrick Lente (D-Sandia Pueblo), would appropriate $40,000 from the general fund to the Secretary of State to convene a Native American voting information task force. Here is a statement from the New Mexico House Democrats:
House Bill 249 provides legislative and appropriation support for the Native American Voting Task Force (NAVTF), which was first convened in October 2017 by Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver. The current task force has met 12 times since their first meeting in November 2017. They have established a chairperson and vice chairperson. The NAVTF has received the support of the All Pueblo Council of Governors.
Historically, Native American populations have faced numerous barriers to voting that are still resulting in lower voter turnout, ballot access, precinct development, polling locations, and early voting sites.
“We are in our 71st year of Native Americans being able to cast their vote in the state of New Mexico,”said Rep. Derrick Lente. “Our participation in the political process is instrumental to our ability to truly make progress and headway in our state. The Native American community has been historically disenfranchised from the voting process, so ensuring that Native American voices are heard will have lasting impacts on our state.”
House Bill 249 now moves to the House Appropriations and Finance Committee for consideration.