House Bill 57 2019: Enfranchisement of Persons with Felony Convictions
New Mexico is one of the strictest states in the country with regard to disenfranchisement. New Mexico prohibits persons convicted of felonies from voting not only through their time in prison but also after they have served their sentence and for the duration of both their parole and their probation. As of 2017, New Mexicans with felony convictions — 1.53% of the voter population — were not eligible to vote.
Felony disenfranchisement has racist roots. After Congress enacted the 14th Amendment granting citizenship to black people, states enacted criminal laws targeted to black people and also to deprive people convicted of felonies the right to vote.
Felony disenfranchisement disproportionately impacts people of color. In New Mexico state prisons, 61% of the prison population is Hispanic While comprising only 47% of the population; 7.3% is Black while comprising only 1.8% of the population. Nationwide, Native American men are imprisoned at more than four times the rate of White men, and Native American women over six times as often as White women.
House Bill 57 would enfranchise persons with felony convictions. It would amend N.M. Statute § 31-13-11 by eliminating the ban on voting rights. House Bill 57 states in its entirety: “A person who has been convicted of a felony shall be permitted to vote in any statewide, county, municipal or district election held pursuant to the provisions of the Election Code.”
As of January, 2018, seven states introduced bills to restore some voting rights. New Mexico would be the first state to end its history of felony disenfranchisement.
1 The New Mexico Constitution, Article VII, Section 1, provides that state statute governs felony enfranchisement.