The bill to allow 16- and 17-year-olds to vote in school board elections rose from the dead Monday, advancing after a turnabout by a handful of Republican legislators. Members of the House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee voted 7-2 to move the bill forward without recommendation. Only a minute before, the committee had voted 5-4 along party lines against the bill. All of the committee’s Republican members opposed giving it a favorable recommendation. But then Rep. Debbie Rodella, D-Española, rescued the bill. She suggested that it be sent on to the Judiciary Committee without any recommendation.
Three Republicans then changed their vote, and some 20 students who had testified for the bill went home happy.
It was a memorable moment for Rep. Javier Martinez, D-Albuquerque, the bill’s sponsor. A freshman, Martinez was presenting the first bill of his career.
He said students can drive and go to work at 16, so giving them the right to vote in school board elections that affect their lives makes sense.