New Mexico Secretary of State Toulouse Oliver has been involved in public life and service in New Mexico for the last twenty years. Her expertise spans many issue areas, as she was one of the original New Mexico staffers for the League of Conservation Voters. Her profile rose again significantly in 2007 when she was elected as Bernalillo County Clerk. She served two very successful terms there, rolling several successful voter access and ballot protection programs. In 2016, following the arrest and resignation of Dianna Duran, Toulouse Oliver won the special election to replace her and has held the office since.
Ready access to the ballot is central to CVNM’s theory of change regarding environmental protection. Our work is “connecting the people of New Mexico to their political power.” One of the most important ways we express popular political power is by voting. Using the tools of government to protect commonly shared resources like clean air and clean water relies very heavily on shaping the conversation by shaping who’s having it. Education and accountability will always be an important part of our work. Still, some of our most enduring legislative achievements are built on votes we secured by replacing legislators who had lost touch with their district’s conservation and climate values. New Mexican communities can act to protect the environment at the ballot box, but it’s key that access be widely available, no matter where you live.
In her capacity as Secretary of State, Toulouse Oliver has championed multiple bills designed to make the ballot more accessible to New Mexicans from all walks of life. In 2022, she partnered with Senators Wirth, Pope, Duhigg, and Hamblen, as well as Representative Javier Martinez to introduce Senate Bill 8 -Voters Rights Provisions. This bill proposed many vital changes, but overall it looked to accomplish a few main things:
- expand protections and access for indigenous communities
- make it easier for people to register to vote
- make it easier for young people to participate
- make it easier for people with previous felony convictions to regain access to the ballot
This bill was moving through the Senate process smoothly but ultimately stalled on the Senate floor due to a procedural move by bill opponents. Efforts to amend important parts of the bill into other legislation later in the session also stalled.
Undeterred, Secretary Toulouse Oliver and legislative champs rallied and returned in 2023 with a new version of the bill – the Voting Rights Act (HB 4). HB 4 had the same broad categories as 2022’s SB 8. The sponsors and the Secretary (and her staff) avoided the procedural pitfalls that tied up SB 8, and the bill passed the legislature 5 days before the end of the session. The Governor signed the bill on March 30th, and New Mexicans can look forward to another smoothly administered election in 2024.
Know the Score > Take Action
Say ‘thanks’ … or, ‘no thanks’!
Tell your Legislators that you ‘know the score’
One of the best ways to influence the voting records of your elected officials is to communicate regularly with them. If your legislators scored well, it’s important to thank them and to support them. If you feel you weren’t well-represented by your legislators’ votes, it’s important to hold them accountable by letting them know what you think about their votes. The Scorecard is your key to staying informed on your legislators votes and getting in touch with them.
Communicate with the Governor and your Legislators
Whether you’re congratulating them on their score or expressing your disappointment, be direct, courteous and polite.
The most important part is letting them know that you are paying close attention to how they vote or, in the case of the Governor, what actions she takes on legislation that affects our air, land, and water.
Calling your legislator directly and sending letters through regular mail remain by far the most effective ways to communicate with your legislators.
The Governor and Lieutenant Governor can always be contacted at the State Capitol. Except during the legislative session, state legislators should be contacted in their home districts, as listed on the current Legislators page.