LAS CRUCES ― Gov. Martinez signed House Bill 138 into law Wednesday, allowing 17 year olds who will be 18 by the general election, the right to vote in primary elections.
Currently more than 20 states provide this opportunity. The legislation was introduced by Rep. Jeff Steinborn (Las Cruces). The legislation was supported by a number of organizations including Common Cause New Mexico, and the association of County Clerks.
Steinborn expressed his excitement at the bill’s signing. “I am excited for the opportunity that this law will give some of our young adults to participate in choosing their elected officials. No right is more important than our right to vote and I am hopeful that this legislation will empower the next generation to get involved. I am also hopeful that our schools will embrace this legislation as an opportunity to teach students about government and encourage civic participation.”
Viki Harrison, Executive Director of Common Cause New Mexico added “Common Cause New Mexico has proudly supported this important piece of legislation for several years, and we are thrilled to see it signed by Martinez. Allowing 17 year olds to vote in primaries promotes democracy for our future by giving them a choice in who will be on the ballot in the first general election they are allowed to vote in – and hopefully start them on a lifetime path of voting!”
Because the legislation goes into effect July 1st, after New Mexico’s June Primary election, it will be available beginning in the 2018 Primary Election. Steinborn had tried to pass the bill with an “emergency clause” allowing it to go into effect in this year’s primary election, but the legislation did not garner the 2/3 vote needed on the House floor to allow the emergency clause to be incorporated into it.