November 8, 2016

Can you buy beer and liquor on Election Day in NM?

John McStravick


Voters in New Mexico may want to imbibe in some alcoholic beverages tonight while watching election results. Whether those are celebratory drinks or drinking to get through the night will depend on the election results.

But if voters forgot to get their champagne or whiskey or beers before Tuesday, no, it isn’t too late. Liquor sales are allowed in New Mexico on Election Day, and have been for nearly two decades.

Older voters may remember a time when liquor sales on Election Day were prohibited while the polls were open. That came to an end on July 1, 1999 when a law passed by the Legislature ended the ban.

Before July 1, 1999, buying alcohol—either in bars or at package liquor locations—was prohibited during election days. This included both primaries and general elections.

It is, however, a petty misdemeanor of any member of the precinct board to possess or use alcohol “while performing his official duties on election day.” They precinct board members can’t carry alcoholic beverages within 200 feet of a polling place during an election.

The bill to end the prohibition on liquor sales was signed into law by Gov. Gary Johnson—who is running for president as the Libertarian Party candidate this year.

The prohibition on selling alcohol on Christmas Day, however, is still in place.