Constitutional amendments dealing with school elections and voting rights that were thought to have failed years ago actually were passed, the state Supreme Court ruled today. The justices concluded that the constitutional changes needed the approval of only a majority of voters — not the 75 percent that was thought to be required — because they expanded rights, not curtailed them. That means that school elections could now be held in conjunction with other nonpartisan elections, such as municipal elections, rather than having to be held separately. The other changes modernized language in the constitution, replacing the references to “idiots” and “insane persons” as being prohibited from voting.
And modernized language on felons and voting ensures that a state law allowing convicted felons to apply to have their voting rights restored is on solid footing. The previous constitutional language provided for lifetime disenfranchisement of convicted felons unless they were pardoned by the governor.
The lawyer who brought the case on behalf of the League of Women Voters of New Mexico, state Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque, said it was the first time the Supreme Court has issued such a ruling. Decades ago, the state’s highest court did the opposite, deciding that a constitutional change that had been on the books for 16 years should be taken off.