Our New Mexico legislature made Zoom access available during their 2021 NM Legislative session. I found this great because the public could so readily be part of the NM House and Senate committee hearings, and full House and Senate votes, and for me specifically on the dozen pieces of legislation that I was closely tracking.
As a regular citizen, I was excited to be able to listen to expert and regulators’ testimony, and our elected legislators’ debates on specific pieces of legislation, which greatly helped me and other concerned Citizens with easy transparency so essential for knowing whether our legislators are actually doing what we voted for them to do. I was able to be participatory in the legislative process, which I believe is a wonderful means of generating enthusiasm for voting. At the same time, I was inspired to participate in our democracy by writing letters, and making phone calls, and using the Zoom ‘raise hand’ function when public perspective ‘votes’ were taken by committee chairs.
Of course, the ease of participating by Zoom in the New Mexico legislative session meant that I had the choice of spending an average of two hours a day for two months as a citizen participant !!! How amazing !!!
Interestingly, I noticed we were getting more citizen participation on Zoom as time went on, when people found out they could watch what their legislators were saying, and body language.
Many of the legislative sessions also had real-time translations into Spanish language when the public was being asked to raise their hand, in support or objection to legislation that was about to be discussed. This is a wonderful example of promoting democracy and encouraging people to vote knowing their voices matter.
I really hope the New Mexico legislature continues to promote democracy with Zoom public participation in all the committee hearings, where the actual decisions are made on what moves to the floor to be voted on, and all house and senate floor discussions and voting, from this day forward. Zoom is now a tested and proven means of easy access for citizens to the legislative process, encouraging citizens participation in government from anywhere in New Mexico.
Easy access to our New Mexico legislature greatly enhances citizen understanding of issues by hearing multiple viewpoints and encourages broad citizen involvement in their government. Democracy at its best helps ensure that the legislation drafted comprehensively addresses the majority of the public’s needs and wants from our government representatives, while enabling citizens to hold our elected representatives and senators transparently accountable.
Sandoval County Democrat