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Intervention sought on election timing

Several district attorneys from around New Mexico are asking the state Supreme Court to invalidate a portion of a bill passed this year that would shift the office’s election cycle.

Currently, district attorney elections coincide with presidential elections, meaning they would normally be included on the 2020 ballot. But House Bill 407, or the “Election Laws 50-year Tune Up” moves their election onto the gubernatorial cycle, meaning the office would be included on the ballot in 2022.

Twelfth Judicial District Attorney John Sugg asks the court in a petition for original writ of mandamus to find the bill unconstitutional, and to direct the secretary of state to include the office on the 2020 primary and general election ballots. He writes that the legal status for district attorneys is uncertain for the time period after their current four-year terms expire and the next gubernatorial election in 2022.

“By purporting to alter the district attorneys’ term of office, House Bill 407 creates a substantial public crisis of constitutional magnitude that warrants this court’s exercise of original mandamus jurisdiction,” Sugg wrote.

Sugg is joined by seven district attorneys, not including Bernalillo County’s district attorney, Raúl Torrez.

“Ultimately, our goal is to make sure voters are able to exercise their constitutional right to elect the chief law officer of their respective judicial district and this action is the best avenue to achieve that goal,” Sugg said in a news release Monday.

Alex Curtas, communications director for the Secretary of State’s Office said the legislature’s recent updates to the state’s election laws make it easier “to register to vote, enhance election security and improve accessibility at the ballot box for eligible voters.

“We’re aware that some of New Mexico’s District Attorneys are questioning a provision of the new law and we’ve been in regular communication with them as they seek clarity from the court,” Curtas said.

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