After hearing arguments Tuesday, a state judge said she would mull over a case that could transform New Mexico’s two-party primary system. State District Judge Denise Barela-Shepherd said she would soon issue an opinion in a lawsuit filed by Albuquerque resident David Crum on behalf of the state’s 250,000 independent voters. Crum is seeking to allow people the right to pick a party on the day of the primary so they can vote. Currently, only Republicans and Democrats can vote in primary elections — something critics say contributes to low voter turnout.
Crum’s attorney, Ed Hollington, said barring independents from participating in primaries is unconstitutional, and the practice needs to be overturned.
“We are not requesting anything that would allow Democrats to vote in Republican primaries,” Hollington told the judge Tuesday. “This is a right to vote request.”
However, Assistant Attorney General Nicholas Sydow said changing the law to let independents cast votes in closed primaries would hurt the “purity of the election” and possibly would elect candidates who don’t represent the party.