Freshman legislator Rep. Javier Martinez (D-Bernalillo) is making a splash with his first-ever bill in New Mexico’s legislature.
Rep. Martinez has introduced a bill that would allow 16 and 17 year olds in New Mexico to vote in school board elections. According to a press release from the NM House Democrats, the Youth Civic Engagement and Voting Act (HB 249) would “use the same model that has been successful in places like Takoma Park, Maryland and the United Kingdom, where voter engagement and participation has increased by expanding voting privileges to juniors and seniors in high school.”
From the release:
“We need to encourage our young people to become active participants of our democracy. We teach our children about civic engagement and the political process as early as elementary school, but we don’t allow them to actually have a voice in the system they navigate daily,” said Rep. Martinez. “It is one thing to teach our students to participate in the process, it is another to actually allow them to do it. This will show our youth that voting is a way to secure a brighter future for New Mexico.”
Rep. Martinez is proud to have the support of many organizations throughout the state, including the New Mexico Youth Alliance. “Young people are directly impacted by decisions made by school board members and as such, they will bring the expertise of their experiences to the ballot box to ensure that New Mexico schools are truly responsive to their needs as students,” noted Adrian Carver, Co-Director of the NM Youth Alliance.
The Youth Civic Engagement and Voting Act would legally allow New Mexico residents, ages 16 and 17, to register and vote in their local school board elections. Federal law mandates that no person over the age of 18 shall be denied the right to vote but does not preclude states and municipalities from adopting laws that would permit the expansion of age requirements for registration.