On January 8, 2019, the Adelante Executive Committee passed a Resolution Endorsing House Bill 57 which abolishes the ban on voting for persons convicted of a felony. https://adelantecaucus.org/adelante-legislative-resolutions/ Attached are two summaries of the Bill and a Fact Sheet.

The Bill is about restoring the citizenship right to vote to communities most effected by the criminal justice system. The stripping of the right to vote for persons convicted of a felony originated after the 15th Amendment gave African American men the right to vote as a way to legally disenfranchise them. In New Mexico, over 68% of the persons in state prisons are persons of color. Depriving people of the right to vote based on convictions means that certain communities are deprived of the representation they are entitled to by citizenship.

The Bill has passed the Governmental Elections and Indian Affairs without recommendations, meaning that it moves to the next Committee but with a request for amendments. The Bill will next be heard by the Judiciary Committee which will either move it forward or kill it, perhaps as early as this week.

Some Democratic Party legislators are requesting amendments that do not recognize the basic citizenship right to vote of all persons. They are talking about either restoring the right to vote only after having completed the prison sentence or allowing the right to vote only depending on the crime committed.

The job of punishment for a crime is that for a judge to impose with consideration of the circumstances. Stripping of the citizen right to vote of every person convicted of a felony through a statute is not a deterrent to crime. The deterrents to crime are sentencing, prison time, probation and parole.

To impose the additional punishment of suspension of voting rights across the board for every felony is not restorative justice for the community nor the person convicted. Suspension of voting rights serves mainly to harm the democratic rights of people of color and poor communities.

Please write or email to legislators on the Judiciary Committee. Their names, telephone numbers and email addresses are attached. If you would like to send a single email to all Democrats and the Republican who might vote for the Bill, then cut and paste this list:

daymon.ely@nmlegis.goveliseo.alcon@nmlegis.govdeborah.armstrong@nmlegis.govchristine.chandler@nmlegis.gov; brian.egolf@nmlegis.gov; dayan.hochman-vigil@nmlegis.gov; matthew.mcqueen@nmlegis.gov; gail@gailchasey.comzachary.cook@nmlegis.gov micaela.cadena@nmlegis.gov; georgene.louis@nmlegis.gov

Finally, Legislator Gail Chasey, the sponsor of HB 57, speaks of how 94% of prisoners get out of prison, and our communities will be safer if those convicted of a crime are engaged in the political process. Please feel free to cut and paste any arguments from this email or from the attachments that suit you.

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