SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Should people under 18 years-old be allowed to vote? That’s a question being considered at the Roundhouse. Teens and even kids participate in public comment at the legislature, but this proposal would let 17 year-olds participate in state and local elections.
“I do feel that there is an opportunity that we have here as legislators that obviously have young folks who want to get involved in the process,” said Sen. Carrie Hamblen (D- Las Cruces). Right now in New Mexico, 17 year-olds can vote in the primaries just as long as they’re 18 years-old by the general election.
Senate Bill 412 would let 17 year-olds vote in any state elections, which include school board elections, mayoral elections, county and city elections, just to name a few. However, they would not be able to vote in federal elections, which are presidential and congressional elections. The sponsor said this is a way for younger people to have a say in their communities.
Teenagers who spoke out in favor of this bill said they’re impacted by decisions legislators make and want to be better represented. “The ability to vote is one of many tools connected to the most powerful tool which is your valid experience and your ability to express that any way you can to liberate ourselves by any means necessary,” said Artisco Heritage Academy High School student, Isaiah Llamas. New Mexico is one of a handful of states that let’s 17 year-olds participate in the primaries as long as they’re 18 by Election Day.
Other states like Colorado, Maine, and North Carolina let 16 year-olds pre-register to vote. Although this bill would allow 17 year-olds to vote, it would not let them be eligible to run for office. The bill cleared its first committee and it now heads to the Senate Judiciary. If passed, this would go into effect for the 2022 elections.