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N.M. Constitution limits who can be recalled

SANTA FE – The recent special elections that led to two Colorado lawmakers being removed from office could not happen in New Mexico.

Why not?

New Mexico is one of 31 states that do not allow for recall of state officials or legislators, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

House Speaker Ken Martinez, D-Grants, said he could not remember any recent legislative attempts to introduce recall elections on a statewide level.


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He also said he would be skeptical of such legislation.

“I would be wary of a system such as Colorado’s,” Martinez told the Journal. “It might be disruptive and seems that big money would be able to come in even more, not just to influence elections but individual votes.”

However, another veteran lawmaker was surprised to learn the state did not allow for recall elections and said he might support such a concept.

“I didn’t know we didn’t have it,” said Senate Republican Leader Stuart Ingle of Portales.

If New Mexico did offer citizens a pathway to remove state lawmakers via the recall process, Ingle said, it could feasibly be used as it was in Colorado.

In that state’s recent recall elections, on Sept. 10, Senate President John Morse and Sen. Angela Giron, both Democrats, were successfully recalled over their “yes” votes for a gun control measure.

Recall elections allow citizens to remove and replace public officials during their terms in office. They are occasionally used to remove elected officials accused of misconduct, but are more often used for political reasons, as in the Colorado case.

Although it does not sanction recall elections against state officials or legislators, the New Mexico Constitution does allow for recall attempts to be launched against elected county officials and school board members. State law also lays out a process for recall elections targeting certain elected municipal officeholders.

In addition, the Constitution allows for the Legislature to expel a member on a two-thirds vote in either the Senate or House of Representatives.

State lawmakers last considered expelling one of their own in 1992, but House members ultimately voted down a motion to oust former Rep. Ron Holguin. However, Holguin was censured by the House and later convicted in state court for soliciting a bribe.

Nationwide, of the 38 state lawmakers who have faced recall elections since 1908, 21 ended up being recalled, according to NCSL.