New Mexico Democrats recently introduced two bills to make voting easier. One would have automatically registered any eligible voter who interacted with the state Department of Motor Vehicles unless they opted out, while another would have allowed same-day voter registration throughout the early voting period. However, despite Democratic majorities in both state legislative chambers, each bill failed to even make it out of committee thanks to Democratic state Rep. Debbie Rodella, who echoed Republican talking points while opposing both measures.
Automatic and same-day registration always faced the possibility of a veto from Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, but had Democrats successfully demonstrated that the legislature could pass these bills, that would have been encouraging for 2018. Martinez faces term limits next year and Democrats could regain the governor’s office—and with it, unified control over state government. However, even if Democrats prevail in 2018, Rodella could still side with Republicans to block these reforms if she remains on the elections committee.
Rodella’s northern New Mexico 41st State House District overwhelmingly backed Barack Obama by a 74-22 margin, and Hillary Clinton undoubtedly carried it easily too. What’s more, most of its residents are Latino, an often under-represented community that could benefit strongly from automatic voter registration and more generous registration deadlines. There’s simply no excuse for such a heavily Democratic district to have a representative who opposes measures to make voting easier.
Unfortunately, this sort of behavior is nothing new from Rodella, who in 2013 voted with the GOP to thwart a same-sex marriage law in committee. It’s long past time for the 24-year incumbent to go.