Certain 17-year-olds would be able to vote in primary elections under a bill now on its way to Gov. Susana Martinez. The measure would allow 17-year-olds to vote in the primary if they will turn 18 before the general election. Rep. Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces, has sponsored the bill for three years as a way to interest younger people in government and politics. His earlier attempts cleared the House of Representatives, but Wednesday was the first time the proposal made it through the Senate.
Senators voted for the measure 24-16. House members approved it 10 days ago in a 41-26 vote.
“I’m excited for the young people who will be affected by this and have a voice,” Steinborn said. “It’s also nice that it will happen for many while they are in high school.”
Sen. Mark Moores, R-Albuquerque, sponsored the bill on the Senate side. Like Steinborn, Moores said the intent is to get younger people engaged in the political process.
For Sen. Sander Rue, R-Albuquerque, the bill brought back memories of Congress deciding in 1971 to amend the U.S. Constitution to lower the voting age from 21 to 18. The states later ratified the change, making voting rights for 18-year-olds the 26th Amendment to the Constitution.