Commentary: I grew up with parents who were not only active voters, but also talked about issues, policies, and various decisions made by leaders. The moment I turned 18 and could vote, my mom drove me to the post office to complete my voter registration. Beyond being encouraged, voting was actually expected by my parents.
Yet despite my active interest and status as a voter, I remember several times when elections were held locally, and I was not aware of them. In fact, this happened regularly when I was in college and had just become a regular voter. I remember walking into the library or driving by a school, seeing the signs and reading, “Vote here.” I remember thinking, “There’s an election today? For what? Does that election include me as a voter? What did I miss?” I now know that those elections were likely often less publicized special, school board, or even water conservation district elections.
Voters may not be aware of important voting legislation passed in 2018 that greatly affected local elections in our county. Through the passage of the Local Election Act and with the goal of increasing voter participation, New Mexico voters will have the opportunity to vote in the first Local Election on November 5, 2019, which will merge local, nonpartisan elections across the state.
This means that for the first time New Mexican voters can depend on voting every Tuesday following the first Monday of every November.
Municipalities in Doña Ana County had the option to be included in this consolidation of elections. Separate from the anticipated increase in voter turnout, the benefits of consolidation included cost-savings for the municipalities, particularly in run-off situations, in which participation is historically low, yet costly.
In Doña Ana County, we are fortunate to have had all of our municipalities choose to consolidate their elections. I would like to extend a heartfelt “thank you” to those entities for making the decision to opt in. The City of Las Cruces, the City of Sunland Park, and the Village of Hatch will hold their municipal officer elections on November 5, 2019 as part of the first local election. The City of Anthony and the Town of Mesilla consolidated their elections but will not have municipal officers on a local election ballot until 2021.
For voters in Las Cruces, Sunland Park, Hatch, Anthony and Mesilla, your leaderships’ decision to opt in to the Local Election reflects not only a choice to save your municipality money, but it also reflects a commitment to increasing voter turnout and participation in our county’s electoral process.
To learn your status as a voter as well as access other important information regarding legislation and elections, please visit www.NMVote.org. You will also find election information specific to our county at www.dacelections.com.