Victory in New Mexico Voter Registration Case

February 26, 2011

On February 24, 2011, U.S. District Judge Judith Herrera signed a Consent Order resolving litigation brought by the Voting Rights Project challenging the failure of the State of New Mexico to implement the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA) at the State’s public assistance offices.  Valdez v. Duran (D. N.M.).   The Order requires the State to implement specific procedures to ensure that thousands of New Mexico citizens will be accorded the opportunity to register to vote when applying for and renewing their public assistance benefits, and also when submitting a change of address for benefits purposes.  The Order further requires that the State conduct voter registration training for public assistance employees and regularly monitor implementation of the Order.

The Order follows a December 21, 2010 ruling in which Judge Herrera found that New Mexico was violating the NVRA by providing voter registration forms only to those public assistance clients who specifically request to register to vote.  A second claim in this case, that the State similarly was violating the NVRA by not offering voter registration at motor vehicle offices, was settled in July 2010.  The Lawyers’ Committee’s co-counsel in the case include Project Vote, Demos, and the law firms of DLA Piper US, and Freedman Boyd Hollander Goldberg Ives & Duncan.  The Lawyers’ Committee, working with Project Vote and Demos, has settled similar litigation in the last two years against the States of Missouri and Ohio.

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