Long opposed to changing New Mexico’s closed primary system, top Democrats are starting to flirt with the idea of allowing independents to vote in partisan primaries. “I’ve originally been in the position that I was not in favor of opening primaries, but I’m reconsidering,” says Sam Bregman, chairman of the Democratic Party of New Mexico. New Mexico is one of 11 states that does not allow registered independents, most of whom are known here as “declined to state voters,” to cast ballots in either Democratic or Republican party primary elections. But just 20 percent of the state’s eligible voters showed up to the polls to vote in the primary last week, which critics cite as a reason the current system isn’t working. Statewide, voters who decline to affiliate with a party make up 19 percent of the electorate, or about 238,500 people, according to Secretary of State figures as of Dec. 31, 2013. In Santa Fe County, that proportion is even greater at 20 percent of registered voters, or 20,589 people.
“We had low voter turnout,” Bregman says of the June 3 primary. “That’s unacceptable. We want to do everything we can to encourage participation, so that’s weighing heavily.”
A lawsuit filed last week in the Second Judicial District Court against Secretary of State Dianna Duran and Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver alleges that the closed primary system in New Mexico is violating the state constitution.
David Crum, an Albuquerque lawyer, argues that the state’s current primary system violates a provision in the New Mexico constitution that allows all registered voters to “be qualified to vote in all elections in New Mexico.”
Full Article: New Mexico Voter Sues Over Closed Primary System.