- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 18, 2017

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - New Mexico lawmakers are proposing a change to the state constitution that would automatically provide voter registration through driver’s license records unless individuals choose not to participate.

Democratic lawmakers and the state’s top elections regulator, Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, announced the proposed constitutional amendment Wednesday at the state Capitol.

The language for the amendment has yet to be filed, but Rep. Javier Martinez, D-Albuquerque, said the initiative was inspired by legislation enacted in Oregon in 2015 that automatically registers people to vote when they visit a motor vehicle agency to apply for or renew a driver’s license, ID card or permit. A form is then sent out by mail allowing people to opt out.

Approval by a majority of legislators would send the amendment to a statewide referendum in 2018, with or without the consent of GOP Gov. Susana Martinez. Detailed regulations would be developed later.

New Mexico currently provides voter registration services at Motor Vehicle Division offices, placing the onus on individuals to fill out an additional form. Sponsors of the proposed amendment say it would shift the responsibility for registering to vote from the individual to the government.

“Just making it one step easier is going to bring out more people,” to vote, said Rep. Elizabeth Thomson, D-Albuquerque, a co-sponsor of the amendment. “The more voices we hear, the better we can represent them.”

Toulouse Oliver said automatic voter registration also could improve the accuracy of voter registration rolls and reduce the costs of processing hand-written and online voter registration applications.

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