In July 2009, the Lawyers’ Committee, together with Demos, Project Vote, and pro bono counsel (DLA Piper US and Freedman, Boyd, Hollander, Goldberg, Ives, & Duncan) filed suit in federal court to remedy the failure of New Mexico state officials to provide voter registration services at state public assistance offices and driver’s license offices, as required by the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA). Plaintiffs are individual residents of the State.
On July 1, 2010, a settlement agreement was entered into with New Mexico’s motor vehicle department and Secretary of State to remedy the State’s failure to offer voter registration at motor vehicle offices. The settlement included requirements that the State: adopt new procedures to ensure that all applicants for driver’s licenses and state identification cards are offered the opportunity to register to vote; conduct training for state employees on the new procedures; collect data to track performance under the settlement and report these data regularly to Plaintiffs’ counsel; and monitor compliance and implement corrective measures when needed. The settlement remained in effect until July 2014.
In the public assistance portion of the case, on December 21, 2010 the district court ruled 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. On February 24, 2011, the district court signed a Consent Order mostly resolving the public assistance registration issues. Similar to the settlement regarding voter registration at motor vehicle offices, the Consent Order required the State to implement specific procedures to ensure that New Mexico citizens will have the opportunity to register to vote through public assistance offices, and required the State to conduct voter registration training for public assistance employees, collect data regarding voter registration performance, and regularly monitor implementation of the Order. This settlement was in effect for four years.
The Consent Order allowed the State to take a limited appeal, to dispute the district court’s December 21, 2010 ruling, and the State filed that appeal. On February 21, 2012, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s decision. Valdez v. Squier, 676 F.3d 935.
To read the settlement of driver’s license portion of the case, click here.
To read the district court December 21, 2010 opinion, click here.
To read the Consent Order regarding the public assistance portion of the case, click here.
To read the Tenth Circuit decision, click here.