New Mexico Dates for School Elections, Amendment 1 (2014)

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Amendment 1
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Constitution:Constitutional amendment
Referred by:New Mexico Legislature
Topic:Elections and campaigns on the ballot
Status:Defeated Defeatedd
2014 measures
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November 4
Amendment 1 Defeatedd
Amendment 2 Approveda
Amendment 3 Approveda
Amendment 4 Approveda
Amendment 5 Approveda
Bond Question A Approveda
Bond Question B Approveda
Bond Question C Approveda
Polls
Local measures

The New Mexico Dates for School Elections, Amendment 1 was on the November 4, 2014 ballot in New Mexico as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment, where it was defeated. The measure would have removed the mandate that school elections be held on different dates than any other elections. However, the amendment would have replaced the mandate with a less restrictive one. School elections would need to be held on different dates than partisan elections. Therefore, the measure would have allowed school elections to happen on the same dates as other nonpartisan elections, such as municipal elections, bond elections, conservancy district elections and other special district elections.[1]

The proposed amendment was sponsored in the New Mexico Legislature by Rep. James E. Smith (R-22) and Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto (D-15) as House Joint Resolution 2.[2]

In 2008, New Mexicans voted on Amendment 4, which was virtually the same as this year's Amendment 1. While Amendment 4 received 73.6 percent of the vote, the amendment required a three-fourths majority to pass.[3] According to Section 3 of Article VII of the New Mexico Constitution, Section 1 and Section 3 of the article cannot be amended without "at least three-fourths of the electors voting in the whole state, and at least two-thirds of those voting in each county of the state." Therefore, Amendment 1, which would have amended Section 1 of Article VII, required a three-fourths vote across the state, and at least a two-thirds vote in each county, in order to pass.

Election results


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This ballot measure article has preliminary election results. Certified election results will be added as soon as they are made available by the state or county election office. The following totals are as of 100 percent of precincts reporting.

New Mexico Amendment 1
ResultVotesPercentage
Defeatedd No186,42042.40%
Yes 253,226 57.60%

Election results via: New Mexico Secretary of State

Text of measure

Ballot title

The official ballot text appeared as follows:[4]

1. A Joint Resolution proposing to amend Article 7, Section 1 of the Constitution of New Mexico to provide that school elections shall be held at different times from partisan elections.


For ____________ Against ____________[5]

Constitutional changes

See also: Article VII, New Mexico Constitution

The measure would have amended Section 1 of Article VII of the Constitution of New Mexico to read:[1]

[Section 1.]

A. Every citizen of the United States who is over the age of twenty-one years and has resided in New Mexico twelve months, in the county ninety days, and in the precinct in which [he] the person offers to vote thirty days, next preceding the election, except idiots, insane persons and persons convicted of a felonious or infamous crime unless restored to political rights, shall be qualified to vote at all elections for public officers. The legislature may enact laws providing for absentee voting by qualified electors. All school elections shall be held at different times from [other] partisan elections.

B. The legislature shall have the power to require the registration of the qualified electors as a requisite for voting and shall regulate the manner, time and places of voting. The legislature shall enact such laws as will secure the secrecy of the ballot and the purity of elections and guard against the abuse of elective franchise. Not more than two members of the board of registration and not more than two judges of election shall belong to the same political party at the time of their appointment.[5]


Background

The issue of women's suffrage was a prominent controversy in the crafting of the New Mexico Constitution. The constitution's drafters decided to take a limited step towards women's suffrage by granting women the right to vote in school elections. These elections were separated from all other elections so that women could not vote in non-school elections. As Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto said, "[this occurred] to make sure not only that women were allowed to vote in [school elections], but to keep them out of all other elections."[6]

In 1920, Article XIX of the United States Constitution was ratified, thus granting women the right to vote in all elections nationwide. However, the constitutional provision mandating the separation of school election dates from other elections remained. Section 3 of Article VII of the New Mexico Constitution makes this difficult to change.[1]

Support

Supporters

Officials

Senate

Amendment 1 received unanimous support in the New Mexico Senate.[7]

House

In the New Mexico House of Representatives, the following state representatives voted to place the amendment on the ballot:[8]

Arguments

The New Mexico Legislative Council Service provided arguments for and against the constitutional amendment. The following were the council's arguments in support:

1. Separate school elections no longer necessary.

The reason for the prohibition against holding school elections in conjunction with other elections no longer exists. Women have had the right to vote in all public elections in New Mexico since 1920.

2. May increase voter participation.
At least in recent years, voter turnout for school elections has tended to be very low. This may be partly due to "voter fatigue". In some New Mexico counties, voters may be faced with numerous elections in a given year. Reducing the number of elections by allowing school and other nonpartisan elections to be combined might, therefore, increase overall voter participation.

3. May lower costs for school districts.
If adopted, school districts could choose to lower their costs by holding their elections in tandem with other nonpartisan elections. [5]

—New Mexico Legislative Council Service[1]

Opposition

Opponents

Officials

House

In the New Mexico House of Representatives, the following state representatives voted against placing the amendment on the ballot:[8]

Arguments

The New Mexico Legislative Council Service provided arguments for and against the constitutional amendment. The following were the council's arguments against:

1. Does not allow school elections during regular November general elections; may be unfairly combined with other elections.

The proposed amendment is too limited. It continues the prohibition against holding school elections in conjunction with partisan elections; however, the regular November general elections are always partisan elections. Therefore:

1) combined election dates will typically be limited to municipal and special district elections. Often, school district boundaries extend over several municipalities and special districts, which may hold their local elections on different dates. Choosing to combine a school district's election day with one municipality would unfairly favor the voters in that community over the other voters within that school district; and
2) adopting the proposed amendment would continue to bar school districts from the potential opportunities for cost savings and increased voter participation resulting from holding their elections in conjunction with November general elections.

2. Diluted focus.
Setting school elections aside from all other elections permits the focus of public discussion on education issues. It allows voters to learn about school board candidates, school bonds and education ballot initiatives without the distraction of competing issues.

3. Diluted impact of knowledgeable voters.
Current voter turnout for school elections is likely determined by the number of people who are more interested in, and informed about, education issues. Allowing school elections to be combined with other nonpartisan elections dilutes the impact of knowledgeable voters in exchange for incremental cost savings for school districts.

4. Ballots too long and confusing.
Allowing combined nonpartisan elections will make those ballots longer and potentially confusing to voters. [5]

—New Mexico Legislative Council Service[1]

Path to the ballot

See also: Amending the New Mexico Constitution

According to Article XIX of the New Mexico Constitution, a simple majority was required in the legislature to refer the amendment to the ballot. HJR 2 was approved in the New Mexico House on February 14, 2013.[8] The amendment was approved in the New Mexico Senate on March 16, 2013.[7]

House vote

February 14, 2013 House vote

New Mexico HJR 2 House Vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 50 87.72%
No712.28%

Senate vote

March 16, 2013 Senate vote

New Mexico HJR 2 Senate Vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 40 100.00%
No00.00%

Similar measures

See also

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