New Mexico is having an election in a couple of weeks. Now is a good time to get started figuring out whom and what you will be voting on.
More precisely, we are having lots of separate elections, all at the same time and on the same ballot, coordinated by your county clerk. The official Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 7. You can check with your county clerk for locations and early voting information.
What’s happening is a consolidation of all the little nonpartisan elections that used to be held separately.
Depending on where you live, you might be voting on a mayor, a city council member, a school board member, a community college board member and a representative from a district you didn’t even know about, such as a flood control or water and sanitation district, all nonpartisan. There might be a few bond issues or other matters mixed in.
Many boards and commissions have staggered terms. Roughly half the seats will be up for election this year and the other half two years from now. So you might not see any candidates for a particular office in your district.
The League of Women Voters is expected to have candidate information for every district. You can find it at vote411.org.
To see your own individualized ballot, based on your address, go to:
To see the complete list of candidates and questions for the whole state, go to:
You might find more information on the websites of the individual districts. You might also take a few extra minutes to go to the website of that conservation district you did not even know about, and read about what that district does. Then find your property tax bill and see how much money your taxes contribute to it.
If you are surprised by this off-year election, here is the history.
New Mexico made this change to consolidate local elections a few years ago, so that voters would not have to vote at different times for city council, school board and others. It also saves all those districts the considerable costs of running and attempting to publicize special elections.
The state constitution used to require that school board elections must be held at a different time from all other elections. This antiquated provision was written around the time of statehood and reflected the fact that women were allowed to vote in school elections but not in general elections, so this provision kept those elections separate.
The provision made it very inconvenient for voters. Only the most motivated among us would make a special trip just to vote for a school board member or a member of some other board.
But there was a nasty catch in the constitution. (This was in Article VII sections 1 and 3.) To amend this provision required a near-impossible threshold of approval from three quarters of those voting in the state plus two thirds of those voting in each county. So it was nicknamed the “unamendable” provision, and previous attempts to change it had failed.
After the voters approved amending it in 2016, it had to be litigated before the State Supreme Court to overrule that provision. Then legislation had to be passed to implement the new approach, and finally, each individual school board, municipality and other district had to change its own rules to adapt to the new dates.
We voted by this new method in 2021. The Secretary of State’s record shows we had a 19.55% voter turnout, which is not too bad by some standards.
Maybe, as more voters figure it out, we’ll do better this year. Contact Merilee Dannemann through www.triplespacedagain.com