New Mexico Bans Guns Near Polling Places

WASHINGTON, D.C. — It’s now illegal to possess a firearm within 100 feet of a polling place in New Mexico, thanks to legislation signed into law today by New Mexico Governor Lujan Grisham (D). 

On Feb. 14, the New Mexico Senate passed legislation that would prohibit carrying any gun — loaded or unloaded — near a polling place, or 50 feet of a drop box. Anyone who violates the law would be charged with a misdemeanor. The bill underwent a few changes in the state’s House of Representatives before it was sent to the governor’s desk. 

The bill, which was first passed in the state Senate on Jan. 30 in a 26-16 vote passed without an amendment exempting those with concealed-carry permits. The House added the amendment and it passed in a 35-34 vote on Feb. 13. Rep. Joy Garratt (D) voted against the House bill because of the added amendment, saying on the House floor that she “truly feel[s] we do not need guns at our polling places. It’s not about the efficacy of training, it’s about the fact that we don’t need firearms for that 20-minute period that we are voting,” according to the Sante Fe Reporter. 

The amended bill was then sent back to the Senate where it passed in a 26-16 vote with exceptions for police officers, concealed carry license holders, people conducting non-election business near a polling place or drop box and people sitting in their car near a polling place. 

With the bill signed into law, New Mexico joins 11 other states and Washington, D.C.  in banning firearms near polling places. In the past four years, there’s been a steep rise in threats of violence at polling sites and drop boxes, thanks to the spike in conspiracy theories and disinformation stemming from the 2020 presidential election. “Guns and voting are a toxic mix,” Sen. Peter Wirth, the lead sponsor of the bill, said in a statement. “As elections have become known targets for threats and intimidation, it’s important we are enacting this legislation ahead of the upcoming election cycle.” 

“New Mexicans should be able to exercise their right to vote without fear of intimidation or, worse, violence,” Grisham said in a statement at the time of the bill’s passing. “This legislation solidifies what we already know: Guns do not belong at polling places.”

Read the bill here.