HOUSE BILL 86
56th legislature - STATE OF NEW MEXICO - first session, 2023
William "Bill" R. Rehm
RELATING TO ELECTIONS; CREATING THE VOTER EDUCATION AND ELECTIONS TASK FORCE TO STUDY, PROVIDE RECOMMENDATIONS AND PROPOSE LEGISLATION TO IMPLEMENT BEST PRACTICES TO EDUCATE VOTERS AND ENSURE THE ACCURACY AND INTEGRITY OF ELECTIONS PROCESSES IN NEW MEXICO; DECLARING AN EMERGENCY.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO:
SECTION 1. TEMPORARY PROVISION--VOTER EDUCATION AND ELECTIONS TASK FORCE--CREATED--DUTIES--REPORTING.--
A. The "voter education and elections task force" is created to study and provide recommendations on best practices to educate the voters of New Mexico on electoral procedures, voter registration and election safeguards. The voter education and elections task force shall evaluate opportunities for improvements to the electoral process to maximize voter accessibility and accurate voter rolls while continuing to maintain efficient and secure elections. The task force shall function from the date of its appointment until December 31, 2023. Staff and administrative support for the task force shall be jointly coordinated and provided by the secretary of state and the New Mexico legislative council.
B. By April 20, 2023, the members of the voter education and elections task force shall be appointed as follows:
(1) six members who are legislators, with the two political parties with the most members in the state being represented in equal numbers, appointed as follows:
(a) three members of the house of representatives appointed by the speaker of the house of representatives; and
(b) three members of the senate appointed by the senate committees' committee or, if the legislature is not in session at the time of appointment, appointed by the president pro tempore of the senate in consultation with and agreement of a majority of the members who served on the senate committees' committee during the first session of the fifty-sixth legislature;
(2) the secretary of state or the secretary's designee;
(3) the secretary of taxation and revenue, or a designee of the secretary who has oversight or knowledge of data collection and system operations within the taxation and revenue department;
(4) four public members, with the two political parties with the most members in the state being represented in equal numbers, who have expertise in elections, campaigns and private sector organizational structure and operations and who reflect the ethnic, cultural and geographic diversity of the state, two appointed by the speaker of the house and two appointed by the president pro tempore of the senate; and
(5) four county clerks, with the two political parties with the most members in the state being represented in equal numbers, appointed by the county clerks affiliate of the New Mexico association of counties.
C. One representative each from the state registrar and the administrative office of the courts and one representative of the county assessors, appointed by the director of the property tax division of the taxation and revenue department, shall serve as advisory members of the voter education and elections task force, and the task force shall invite the United States postal service in New Mexico to appoint a representative to participate as an advisory member of the task force.
D. Public members of the voter education and elections task force are entitled to receive per diem and mileage pursuant to the Per Diem and Mileage Act but shall receive no other compensation, perquisite or allowance.
E. The voter education and elections task force shall be co-chaired by the secretary of state, or the secretary's designee, and one of the legislator-appointed members from the minority political party, elected by the membership of the task force to serve as co-chair. The task force shall meet at the call of a co-chair or at the request of one-third of its membership, and as necessary to carry out its duties, but no less than once and no more than twice a month. The first meeting of the task force shall be held no later than May 1, 2023, and the first meeting of the task force shall be an organizational meeting for the task force to develop a work plan to carry out the task force's duties.
F. A vacancy on the voter education and elections task force shall be filled by the original appointing authority. A member who misses three meetings shall be removed from the task force, and upon the request of the co-chairs, the appointing authority shall replace the member who has failed to attend three meetings.
G. A majority of the members constitutes a quorum for the transaction of business. The support of a majority of the members is required for adoption of any action; provided that the final report of the voter education and elections task force, including its recommendations and proposed legislation, shall have, at minimum, the support of a majority of the legislative members.
H. The voter education and elections task force may create subcommittees by a majority vote of the members. A subcommittee shall be composed of at least one member from the senate and one member from the house of representatives, including at least one member of a minority political party that is represented in either the senate or house of representatives.
I. Meetings of the voter education and elections task force shall be subject to the Open Meetings Act, and the task force shall actively solicit public input.
J. The voter education and elections task force shall develop policy recommendations and proposed legislation to educate voters on electoral procedures, voter registration and election safeguards. The task force shall also consider improvements to the Election Code to make electoral processes more efficient and accessible to all voters while continuing to maintain election integrity. In developing its policy recommendations and proposed legislation, the task force shall review and consider:
(1) how to educate voters on why a voter's certificate of registration must be kept up to date and, overall, how to effectively disseminate information and engage the public in the electoral process;
(2) federal and state law, constitutional provisions, rules and court decisions governing elections, voter registration and the maintenance of voter rolls;
(3) the accessibility and ease of use of currently used election systems, including the online voter registration system, the vote tabulation systems, election websites and other systems used by voters;
(4) use of voting best practices and implementation of additional voting modernizations used in other states, including automatic voter registration, same-day registration, geo-enabling the voter rolls, absentee voting, residency requirements and risk-limiting audits that may promote improved voting accessibility and election security;
(5) best practices and standards for maintaining accurate voter rolls, including how best to use the data provided by the electronic registration information center and other emerging technologies to continue to recruit eligible but unregistered voters, ensure the ease by which voters cancel registrations in one state and register in another and ensure the integrity of the voter rolls;
(6) best practices and standards for the prompt removal of deceased persons from the voter rolls;
(7) the impacts of issues relating to the United States postal service on ballot tracking, ballot delivery and addressing, inconsistent or non-delivery to valid addresses and how best to use intelligent mail bar codes, the national change of address database and standard addressing to improve election procedures; and
(8) how to improve data collection and sharing between the taxation and revenue department and the secretary of state and county clerks for the purposes of improving election efficiencies and updating certificates of registration.
K. No later than December 1, 2023, the voter education and elections task force shall draft a report of its findings and recommendations for consideration by the governor and the legislature and shall present its report to the New Mexico legislative council, the legislative finance committee, the interim committee that studies courts, corrections and justice issues and the county clerks affiliate of the New Mexico association of counties. The task force shall provide a final report, including any proposed legislation, to the governor and all legislators by December 31, 2023.
L. The secretary of state, county clerks and other relevant state agencies shall cooperate with the voter education and elections task force and provide the task force with information regarding databases, information technology systems, cybersecurity, budget, staffing, organizational structure and other information as relevant to the duties of the task force and as requested by the task force.
SECTION 2. EMERGENCY.--It is necessary for the public peace, health and safety that this act take effect immediately.
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