Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver is sticking to her guns. In a 23-page response to a lawsuit filed by the state Republican and Libertarian parties and others, lawyers representing the Democrat in charge of New Mexico elections rejected their claim that the state Legislature did away with straight-party voting in 2001 and asserted that Toulouse Oliver has the power to give voters that option. The response, filed Friday in the state Supreme Court, argues that “the New Mexico Legislature has never prohibited the inclusion of a straight-party voting option on the ballot. The Legislature, instead, left this option, like other options involved in formatting the ballot, to be determined by the secretary of state.”
The state Attorney General’s Office, which is representing her agency, cites a state law that says ballots shall “be in the form prescribed by the secretary of state.” This, the response claims, leaves it to the secretary of state to decide whether a straight-ticket option is on the ballot.
Opponents of straight-party voting have claimed that Toulouse Oliver is trying to revive the practice in order to help Democratic Party candidates — including herself. The argument is that candidates in down-ballot races who aren’t Democrats will suffer if enough people vote straight Democratic. More voters in this state are registered as Democrats than with any other party.