Special Versus General Elections

In earlier years, the question frequently arose as to whether a proposed amendment fared better at a special election, where there is not the distraction of a ballot of candidates, or at a general election, where there usually is a greater turnout of voters. Historically, New Mexico voters were kinder to constitutional amendments at general elections than at special elections. Excluding the Blue Ballot Amendment, a total of 164 amendments were proposed at general elections compared with 118 at special elections.

Of the 164 amendments submitted at general elections, 100, or 61 percent, were adopted; of the 118 submitted at special elections, 52, or 44 percent, were adopted. Fourteen times the voters have adopted all the amendments on a general election ballot. Only once has this been true of the amendments on a special election ballot.

In 2003, the first special election for constitutional amendments in 30 years took place.

Prior to the 2003 special election, the legislature had been reluctant to submit proposed amendments other than at general elections. One possible reason for the past reluctance is the high cost of statewide special elections. The legislature appropriated $900,000 for the 2003 special election. However, there could be a new trend in special election ballots for constitutional amendments due to the success of the 2003 special election. For the first time in New Mexico history, voters adopted all the amendments on the special election ballot; however, Constitutional Amendment 2, regarding distribution of the land grand permanent fund, was approved by a very slim margin. Some feel the submission of proposed amendments at a special election allows for more promotion and concentrates more voter scrutiny and understanding of what is being proposed. It has also been suggested that some sort of mail-in election ballot might focus more consideration on proposed amendments to the constitution.

Ranked from highest to lowest percent of approval, a comparison of general and special elections indicates the following: - 23 - ___________________________________________________________________________ PERCENT OF APPROVAL

1912-2004 _________________________________________________________________________ General Election Special Election Year Percent Year Percent

1912 100.0 2003 100.0

1914 100.0 1967 87.5

1928 100.0 1933 75.0

1932 100.0 1973 71.4

1938 100.0 1971 70.0

1944 100.0 1955 66.7

1946 100.0 1953 63.6

1962 100.0 1949 60.0

1966 100.0 1965 37.5

1984 100.0 1921 36.4

1996 100.0 1917 33.3

1998 100.0 1961 25.0

2004 100.0 1919 0.0

1986 90.9 1927 0.0

1988 85.7 1935 0.0

1964 80.0 1937 0.0

1960 66.7 1939 0.0

1972 66.7 1951 0.0

1974 66.7

1980 66.7

2002 66.7

1958 60.0

1982 57.1

1940 50.0

1948 50.0

1978 50.0

1992 50.0

2000 50.0

1994 38.5

1924 33.3

1976 28.6

1970 25.0

1990 20.0

1926 0.0

1930 0.0

1942 0.0 - 24 -