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New Mexico Supreme Court blocks changes to election law

August 27, 2019

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Supreme Court has determined parts of a new election law that would have altered the terms of certain elected officials are unconstitutional.

The court ruling Monday blocks some of the election changes enacted by state lawmakers earlier this year from taking effect.

Lawmakers had aimed for the changes to shift the election timing of some judges and county officials, so not all the elections would fall in the same year.

Groups of judges, district attorneys and county officials had challenged parts of the laws in three separate lawsuits.

State Administrative Office of the Courts spokesman Barry Massey announced Monday that the state Supreme Court has directed officials not to go forward with the changes. The court also vacated its plan to hear arguments in the cases next month.

“The challenged sections of law would have temporarily extended the terms of some elected officials as part of an effort to revise which offices appear on the ballot in gubernatorial or presidential election years,” Massey said in a statement. “The new law would have staggered terms of district and metropolitan court judges. In the staggering transition, some judges would have temporarily served longer terms than provided for in the New Mexico Constitution.”

The eight district attorneys who filed a challenged also said the law would have caused them to serve six-year terms or be ousted without an election. The state constitution stipulates four year terms.

The court said it will issue an “opinion explaining the decision” at a later date.

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