New Mexico Modern Election Language Amendment, Amendment 3 (2010)

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The New Mexico Modern Election Language Amendment was on the November 2, 2010 in the state of New Mexico as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment, where it was approved. Approveda The measure would change the New Mexico Constitution to implement federal requirements to vote, which was subject to state residency and registration requirements. According to the text of the measure, election language that discriminated against those with mental disabilities and restricting felons from voting would be removed from the state constitution. The amendment would also remove the 1912 reference to "idiots," which would further modernize the language of that section of the constitution.[1]

However, felons would not be allowed to vote in any election if a restored statute mandated such action. The proposal was sponsored by Senator Howie Morales.[2][3]

Election results

See also: 2010 ballot measure election results

Official election results follow:

Amendment 3 (Modern Election Language)
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 290,091 56.9%
No219,59343.1%

Results via New Mexico Secretary of State.

Text of measure

The ballot read as follows:

Proposing an amendment to Article 7, Section 1 of the Constitution of New Mexico to modernize language on qualified electors by removing language denigrating persons with developmental disabilities, adopting federal requirements to vote, defining mental incapacity for voting purposes and restricting felons from voting except as restored by statute.

[ ] For

[ ] Against[4]

Summary

The summary of the measure read as follows:[3]

"A Joint Resolution proposing an amendment to Article 7, Section 1 of the Constitution of New Mexico to modernize language on qualified electors by removing language denigrating persons with developmental disabilities, adopting federal requirements to vote, defining mental incapacity for voting purposes and restricting felons from voting except as restored by statute."

Fiscal note

The fiscal implications of the measure, as noted by the state fiscal impact report on SJR06, reads:[5]

The Secretary of State, as the Chief Elections Officer is mandated to publish all constitutional amendments in both English and Spanish in a newspaper in every county statewide. The cost for the 2008 General Election was $520,000 for five constitutional amendments. The cost breakdown is estimated at $104,000 per constitutional amendment.

Constitutional changes

The measure was proposed to amend Article 7, Section 1 of the New Mexico Constitution to read as follows:[3]

"Every person who is a qualified elector pursuant to the constitution and laws of the United States and a citizen thereof shall be qualified to vote in all elections in New Mexico, subject to residency and registration requirements provided by law, except as restricted by statute either by reason of criminal conviction for a felony or by reason of mental incapacity, being limited only to those persons who are unable to mark their ballot and who are concurrently also unable to communicate their voting preference. The legislature may enact laws providing for absentee voting by qualified electors. All school elections shall be held at different times from other elections. 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."

The previous section read:

"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 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 elections."
"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, 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."

Support

  • There was no known supporting campaign for the measure.

Opposition

  • There was no known opposing campaign against the measure.

Media endorsements

See also: Endorsements of New Mexico ballot measures, 2010

Opposition

  • The Valencia County News Bulletin, in an editorial stated about the measure, "Amendment 3 would make six separate changes to state election laws, ostensibly to modernize language and bring the constitution into alignment with federal laws. While the intent is noble, such as eliminating embarrassing language prohibiting “idiots” and “insane persons” from voting, this amendment has many problems...The News-Bulletin recommends a no vote."[6]

Path to the ballot

The measure was first introduced to the New Mexico State Senate on January 20, 2010, where it was approved with a vote of 38-0 on February 15, 2010. The measure was then sent to the New Mexico House of Representatives, who approved the measure on February 18 2010 with a vote of 57-0. According to Article XIX of the New Mexico Constitution, it takes a majority vote of all members of both houses of the New Mexico State Legislature to refer a proposed amendment to the ballot. New Mexico is one of ten states that allows a referred amendment to go on the ballot after a majority vote in one session of the state's legislature.[7]

See also

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