Daniel Ivey-Soto, a New Mexico senator from Albuquerque, addressed the League of Women Voters at its monthly Lunch with a Leader in December. He covered a wide range of topics, from election laws to education funding to having an ethics commission for the state.
Sen. Ivey-Soto is the attorney who argued on behalf of the League before the New Mexico Supreme Court that two constitutional amendments that would update the election code should take effect. The justices agreed, rejecting the claim that the ballot questions in 2010 and 2014 needed 75 percent approval and finding that a simple majority sufficed, since both expanded rather than restricted voting rights.
As a result, school districts are no longer prohibited from holding elections at the same time as other nonpartisan elections (such as for mayor or city councilor), a vestige of the days when women could vote only in school elections but not in other civic elections. The other amendment replaces laws banning “idiots” and “insane persons” from voting and ensures convicted felons’ right to vote after they have completed their sentences.
Sen. Ivey-Soto is executive director for New Mexico County Clerks Affiliate and past director of State Elections. He sponsored legislation allowing voting centers and online voter registration. He supports having New Mexico join ERIC (Electronic Registration Information Center), a proactive tool that uses several databases to compare voters across state lines. If it appears that a voter is registered in two states, the record is flagged.
Ivey-Soto stated that education is underfunded by $275-300 million in the state. He supports taking the necessary money from the Permanent Fund. Noting that the number of books in a home is directly related to a child’s performance and that truancy in school is highest in kindergarten and second highest in first grade, he wants to build a culture of education while respecting the traditional focus on family.
He believes that New Mexico, as the second sunniest state in the country, needs to embrace the new energy economy. Our rural areas could develop and export energy, but to do so, the legislature should promote the development of transmission lines connecting production to the potential consumers in other states.
He would like to see an independent redistricting commission that would create competitive districts rather than the current “safe” districts where candidates are effectively unopposed (a result of the districts being drawn by the legislature).
In order to create a government that is trusted by the public, he argues for an ethics commission or accountability board. He is concerned that legislators, currently not compensated except for their expenses, must be one of the three R’s to run: rich, retired or resourceful. To reduce the possibilities for financial corruption, we need better tracking and transparency.