On Tuesday, voters who haven’t already done so can weigh in on four seats on the Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education, as well as four seats on the Central New Mexico Community College Governing Board. In years past, few voters have seized that opportunity – about 3 percent to 3.5 percent of registered voters – in great part because the state Constitution, and state law based on it, scheduled school elections separate from all other political contests so women could vote.
Under a recent constitutional amendment vote and a state Supreme Court decision last year, that archaic provision no longer binds us. Now, state legislators need to change the law that puts school elections in February of odd-numbered years and combine them with other non-partisan elections, like city and county races.
It is important they do so – New Mexico spends more than $2.75 billion a year on its K-12 public schools and there are around 30 community colleges in the state. So, while the status quo likes a low turnout it can dominate, taxpayers deserve to have the people who determine how all that money will be spent and how those schools are run elected by more than a shameful 3 percent of voters.
But, for this election, it’s still February. Polls are open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for early voting today and on Tuesday, Election Day. District maps and a list of voting sites are available at bernco.gov, aps.edu and cnm.edu.