Student Voting Guide | New Mexico

August 15, 2014

This student voting guide explains the laws for the state of New Mexico. If you wish to vote from your school address, check the student voting guide for the state where you attend school. If you want to cast an absentee ballot in your home state, check the student voting guide for that state.

The Brennan Center is committed to giving students as much information as possible to help you exercise your constitutional right to vote. More than ever in recent history, changes to voting laws are being implemented in ways that can affect your ability to make your vote count. In addition to the content you will find in this Student Voting Guide, we continue to track passed and pending voting law changes. While we are working to give you up-to-date information, we urge you to be proactive! In order to ensure you have all the information you need before casting your vote, you should also check with your state and local election officials for information about additional requirements or regulations.

This voting guide was last updated August 15, 2014.

Registration

Voter registration closes 28 days prior to Election Day.[1]  For the General Election this year, the deadline is October 7, 2014. If you mail in your registration form it must be postmarked no later than 28 days before the election.[2] Hand delivered voter registrations, delivered directly to your local county clerk, will be accepted until 5 p.m. the Friday after the close of registration (this year, October 10th).[3]

The New Mexico registration form is available at any county clerk’s office, the Office of the Secretary of State, or many state agencies, like the motor vehicles office.[4]  You may request the form by mail, telephone, or in person, however it is not available online.  You may use the National Voter Registration Form, which is available online.

You can register to vote if you will be 18 by the next election.[5]  If you have been convicted of a felony, it may impact your ability to vote.  If you think you might be affected, you should contact your local clerk’s office.[6]

Residency

In New Mexico your voting residency is determined by your fixed address where you intend to return when you are absent.[7] New Mexico law recognizes that you might live in more than one place; however, you can only establish voting residency at one address.[8]

At School. Students can establish residency in New Mexico if they have the intention to remain at their New Mexico school address for the time being, and they intend to make it their principal home. Any other interpretation of the residency laws is unconstitutional. You are able to register to vote in the community where you attend school even if you leave for the summer or live in a dorm.[9]  Your intent to remain can be shown by: where your car is registered; where you filed your taxes; the address on your driver’s license; where you keep your belongings; and your willingness to take an oath that you are a resident.[10]  Voting in New Mexico may be considered a declaration of residency, potentially making you subject to other laws that govern state residents.

At Home. Students who lived in New Mexico before moving elsewhere to attend school, and who wish to establish or keep their New Mexico voting residency (i.e., at their parents’ New Mexico address), should have no problem doing so. Like most states, New Mexico allows students to keep their voting residency even if they move out of the state to attend school,[11] and the only way you will lose this residency is by establishing residency in a new state.[12]  While registering to vote in another state is not automatically considered abandonment of residency in New Mexico, some judges or officials might view it as such.  New Mexico law considers voting in another state to be an abandonment of New Mexico residency, and students who have voted in other states will have to re-establish New Mexico residency if they wish to vote here.[13]

Challenges to Residency. Students have the right to vote as a resident of New Mexico regardless of student status or whether they pay in-state or out-of-state tuition.  If your registration is refused by the county clerk on the basis of residency, you may bring an appeal to the district court within 30 days.[14]

Your eligibility to vote can also be challenged at the polls by a poll worker or a partisan challenger.[15]  The three elections judges at your precinct will then vote on the challenge.[16] If the vote is not unanimous you will be allowed to vote a regular ballot.[17]  If they unanimously agree you are ineligible, you will be able to vote by provisional ballot.[18]  Your vote will be counted if it is determined you are registered and cast your ballot in the correct polling location.[19]

Identification

All voters in New Mexico will be asked to identify themselves when voting at the polls.[20]  You can satisfy this by either providing physical ID or making a statement under oath confirming your identity and address.  This identification requirement is satisfied by any of the following:

  1. A verbal or written statement by the voter of the voter's name, registration address and year of birth; or
  2. An original or copy of a utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, student identification card or other government document, including identification issued by an Indian nation, tribe or pueblo, that shows the name and address of the person, the address of which is not required to match the voter's certificate of registration; or
  3. An original or copy of a current and valid photo identification with or without an address, including student IDs (the address on this ID does not need to match your voting address).[21]

If you do not have any of these forms of ID at the polls, you will be able to vote a provisional ballot.[22] Your vote will be counted if you return and present one of the required forms of ID to your county clerk’s office before 5 p.m. on the second day following the election.[23]

Absentee Voting

New Mexico is a no-fault absentee voting state – you do not need to give a reason for voting absentee.[24] Your local county clerk’s office must receive your application no later than the Friday before the election.[25]  You may use either the New Mexico absentee ballot application or the federal ballot application to request your absentee ballot.[26]

Your completed absentee ballot must be received by the county clerk by 7 p.m. on Election Day.[27]  If you are a first-time New Mexico voter who registered to vote by mail and whose identity was not verified by the state (it usually is verified if you provide your driver’s license or last four digits of your social security number), you will have to send in a photocopy of one of the physical IDs listed above under the Identification section in order to vote absentee.[28]

Early Voting

New Mexico has an early voting program conducted through in-person absentee ballots, beginning twenty-eight days before the election (2014 General Election: begins October 7) at county clerk offices,[29] the third Saturday before elections (2014 General Election: begins October 18) at alternate sites, and continuing until the Saturday before Election Day (2014 General Election: ends November 1).[30] At early voting sites, you can vote any precinct’s ballot for that county.[31] You should contact your county clerk’s office for exact dates, times, and locations. 

Last Updated August 15, 2014


[1] N.M. Stat. Ann. § 1-4-8 (A)(1).

[2] N.M. Stat. Ann. § 1-4-8(A)(6)(b).

[3] N.M. Stat. Ann. § 1-4-8(A)(6)(a).

[4] N.M. Stat. Ann. §§ 1-4-5.1(A), (B), 1-4-5.2.

[5] N.M. Stat. Ann. § 1-4-2.

[6] N.M. Stat. Ann. § 31-13-1.

[7] N.M. Stat. Ann. § 1-1-7(A).

[8] See, e.g., Apodaca v. Chavez, 109 N.M. 610 (N.M. 1990); State ex rel. Magee v. Williams, 57 N.M. 588, 592 (N.M. 1953).

[9] 1971 Op. Att’y Gen. N.M. 181 (1971 N.M. AG LEXIS 875).

[10] Id.

[11] N.M. Stat. Ann. §1-1-7(D).

[12] N.M. Stat. Ann. § 1-1-7(H).

[13] Id.

[14] N.M. Stat. Ann. §§ 1-4-21, 39-3-1.1(C).

[15] N.M. Stat. Ann. § 1-12-20.

[16] N.M. Stat. Ann. § 1-12-22.

[17] N.M. Stat. Ann. § 1-12-22(B).

[18] N.M. Stat. Ann. § 1-12-22(A).

[19] N.M. Stat. Ann. § 1-12-25.4.

[20] N.M. Stat. Ann. § 1-12-7.1(D).

[21] N.M. Stat. Ann. §1-1-24.

[22] N.M. Stat. Ann. §1-12-7.1(D).

[23] N.M. Stat. Ann § 1-12-7.1(D); N.M. Reg. § 1.10.22.8.

[24] N.M. Stat. Ann. § 1-6-3.

[25] N.M. Stat. Ann. § 1-6-5 (H).

[26] N.M. Stat. Ann. § 1-6-4(A), (B).

[27] N.M. Stat. Ann. § 1-6-10(B).

[28] N.M. Stat. Ann. § 1-6-5 (D).

[29] Absentee and Early Voting, New Mexico Secretary of State, http://www.sos.state.nm.us/Voter_Information/Absentee_and_Early_Voting.aspx.

[30] N.M. Stat. Ann. § 1-6-5.7(A).  

[31] N.M. Stat. Ann. § 1-6-5.7(D)(1).