Longstanding redistricting reform champion Rep. Natalie Figueroa introduced a new companion version of the proposed constitutional amendment, House Joint Resolution 10. This bill is currently identical to Senate Joint Resolution 7, with Senator Leo Jaramillo serving as lead sponsor.
Additional information on hearings for these bills will be posted on this website.
SJR7 will have its first hearing in the NM Senate Rules committee. Advocates are urged to call or email all committee members, asking them to vote yes (“Do Pass”) for establishing an independent redistricting commission. (If you happen to be a resident of the member’s district, please say so.)
Senator Katy M. Duhigg, D-Chair
Senator Leo Jaramillo, D-Vice Chair
Senator Greg Nibert, R-Ranking Member
Senator Gregory A. Baca, R
Senator Linda M. López, D
Senator Brenda G. McKenna, D
Senator Mark Moores, R
Senator Gerald Ortiz y Pino, D
Senator Cliff R. Pirtle, R
Senator Elizabeth "Liz" Stefanics, D
Senator, Mimi Stewart, D
The Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission voted unanimously to support SJR7, the Senate Resolution to create an independent redistricting commission. Leonard Gorman, their Executive Director, has been a key contributor to this effort for over three years and drafted the approved resolution.
The Commission surmised "...that the establishment of an Independent Redistricting Commission in the State of New Mexico best preserves, protects and advances Navajo Nation interests with governmental entities that serve the Navajo people."
The Commission, established by the Navajo Nation Council, collects data regarding discriminatory acts against citizens of the Navajo Nation.
After collecting input from stakeholders and model bill research by Election Reformers Network, the Fair Districts New Mexico coalition drafted new legislation to establish an Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) in our state. Pre-filed in the NM Senate by Senators Leo Jaramillo and Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, the bill remains championed by long-time redistricting advocate Rep. Natalie Figueroa.
Senate Joint Resolution 7, if passed by the NM Legislature, will go before voters on the 2024 general election ballot. As a constitutional amendment, it will not require signature by the governor.
Regular updates regarding the bill’s progress during the legislative session will be posted on this website.
Political Gerrymandering: Guidance for Courts
Today, Common Cause New Mexico, Election Reformers Network, and the League of Women Voters of New Mexico joined with national redistricting experts in filing an amicus brief in New Mexico’s Fifth Judicial District in a case challenging the state’s congressional maps. Plaintiffs in Republican Party of New Mexico et al., v.Maggie Toulouse Oliver, et al., argue that the maps are a partisan gerrymander that violates the state constitution’s equal protection clause.
The amicus brief filed today by the watchdog groups and redistricting experts supports neither party but provides a detailed analysis of both the maps themselves, as well as the standard adopted by the New Mexico Supreme Court in July to determine when a partisan gerrymander is unconstitutional. That three-part test was adopted from a standard articulated in U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan’s dissent in Rucho v. Common Cause. Under that standard, plaintiffs must prove the gerrymander’s intent and its effects. If that is proven the state must then show “a legitimate, nonpartisan justification to save its map”.
“We are gratified that the district court is using the three-part test suggested by Justice Kagan in Ruchov. Common Cause,” said Mason Graham, Common Cause New Mexico Policy Director.“It’s a reasonable way to determine if there was an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander and if the will of the voters was diluted or overturned.”
The brief outlines the legal framework and evidence applicable at each step of the three-part test and addresses relevant data on the maps themselves. The New Mexico Supreme Court joins high courts in Alaska and Pennsylvania along with an appellate court in Maryland in determining that state constitutional rights to free elections and/or equal protection prohibit partisan gerrymandering.
Heather Balas, Vice President of Election Reformers Network says, “Courts using these types of metrics and standards creates an important step in the great effort to move the United States toward a new era of fair districting. Election Reformers Network is honored to play a part in that critical work and is proud to collaborate with this extraordinarily talented team.”
“The decision by the New Mexico Supreme Court to send this complaint back to a District Court for consideration was a victory for voters who believe the courts can – and must – protect voters’ constitutional rights by considering cases alleging partisan gerrymandering,” said Hannah Burling of The League of Women Voters of New Mexico. The League has no opinion on the merits of the complaint but does support the role of the courts in ruling on partisan gerrymandering.
Parties in the brief included Election Reformers Network, Professor Dr. Sam Wang (Electoral Innovation Lab), Paul Mitchell (Redistricting Partners LLC), Jonathan Cervas (Carnegie Mellon University) and Roderick Kennedy (retired judge of the New Mexico Court of Appeals and co-chair of the New Mexico Redistricting Task Force), in addition to Common Cause New Mexico and League of Women Voters of New Mexico.
MEDIA RELEASE: Fair Districts NM
Wednesday’s New Mexico Supreme Court ruling provides needed guidance on how a lower court should consider a case alleging unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering. Instead of declining to have New Mexico courts review redistricting maps for partisan gerrymandering, the court offered guidance to the state’s Fifth District Court on how to gauge if New Mexico’s newest congressional district map is fair. In a cross-partisan twist, the court deployed a standard authored by one of the U.S. Supreme Court’s more liberal justices to advise Clovis District Judge Fred Van Soelen how to assess the Republicans’ claims of unfairness.
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The Legislature considered House Joint Resolution 1 (HJR-1), which would have constitutionally established an Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) to draw fair voting boundaries every ten years. The IRC would handle the process for the specific elected offices: U.S. Congress, NM Senate, NM House and the NM Public Education Commission.
The bill died in committee before going the NM House floor.
This bill would have finished the reform process begun in 2022 by establishing an independent redistricting commission rather than an advisory one. This change would enable New Mexico to align with best practices nationally:
More importantly, passage of HJR 1 would have advanced voter trust during a time when partisanship and polarization have caused people to have less trust in our election process than ever before.
A bill to put the question of creation of an Independent Redistricting Commission in New Mexico on the 2024 ballot died Monday in the New Mexico House Judiciary Committee on a 10-1 vote to table. Multiple lawmakers voiced their viewpoint that the legislature should retain authority to draw its own district lines. Advocates for the bill offered extensive testimony, arguing for the bill’s passage and presenting survey data that 77% of likely N.M. voters want an independent redistricting commission and that the Legislature should let voters decide.
Representatives Natalie Figueroa (D-ABQ) and Jason Harper (R-Rio Rancho) presented a compelling case for an independent redistricting commission. They were joined in their presentation by Robert Rhatigan, a member of the 2021 advisory Citizen Redistricting Committee and Heather Balas, Vice President of the Election Reformers Network.
Despite the committee’s vote to oppose the bill, there was no opposition from the public. Instead, the following organizations offered testimony in support of HJR1: Adelante Progressive Caucus; Retake our Democracy; American Association of University Women; Election Reformers Network; Fair Districts New Mexico; League of Women Voters of New Mexico; Lutheran Advocacy Ministries; New Mexico Council of Churches; National Organization for Women; New Mexico First Redistricting Task Force; Progressive Democrats of America – Central New Mexico and Vecinos United
“Data from multiple other states with Independent Redistricting Commissions objectively demonstrate that, when voting boundaries are drawn by these independent groups, the maps are less biased and more reflective of communities, than when drawn by legislatures,” said Heather Balas of the national research organization Election Reformers Network. “Given the rising degree of polarization and distrust by voters in the election system, New Mexico and other states must take action to advance proven reforms to make our system more fair.”
The proposed legislation to establish an Independent Redistricting Committee, HJR-1, received a "Do Pass" vote from the House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee (HGEAC) in Santa Fe. This vote enables the draft constitutional amendment to move to the House Judiciary Committee, which must also approve it before it can move to the House Floor.
The bill's bipartisan co-sponsors, Rep. Natalie Figueroa and Rep. Jason Harper, each spoke for the bill, along with advocates from many organizations statewide. Additionally, Jeremy Farris of the State Ethics Commission and Heather Balas of the Election Reformers Network provided context as expert witnesses.
Advocates are urged to call and thank members of HGEAC and also House Judiciary members, urging them to approve the bill when it comes to them.
Republican House member Jason Harper joined Democrat Natalie Figueroa in sponsoring House Joint Resolution 1, aiming to create an Independent Redistricting Commission in New Mexico.
The bill, which would call for a Constitutional Amendment and ultimately approval by voters, will be heard later this month in the NM House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee.