Yesterday, New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver adopted the final version of four new administrative rules, which take effect in time for the Primary Election in June 2018. The new rules enhance numerous aspects of the state’s absentee voting process, outline procedures for candidates to transfer funds from one state campaign finance account to another, establish the order in which certain races will appear on the ballot, and bring uniformity to procedures for provisional voting statewide. “These rules bring clarity to a number of existing election procedures and make it easier for New Mexico’s voters – including blind and visually impaired voters – to cast a ballot,” said Secretary Toulouse Oliver. “I will continue looking for ways to streamline New Mexico’s election processes and increase access to the ballot box.”
Articles about voting issues in New Mexico.
Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver hopes to bring back straight party voting – possibly as soon as November – which would allow voters to check a single box to vote for a major party’s entire slate of candidates. However, critics of straight party voting say the practice gives an unfair advantage to major party candidates – especially Democrats – over those who are independent or affiliated with minor parties. And state Republican Party officials have indicated that they might pursue a court challenge if straight party voting is enacted. A Secretary of State’s Office spokesman said Toulouse Oliver intends to hold public hearings before implementing straight party voting, and it’s unclear whether that will happen in time for the Nov. 6 general election. But he insisted that state law gives the secretary of state the authority to unilaterally reimpose the voting option.
Democratic Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver said she still wants to restore straight-ticket voting in which a slate of major-party candidates can be chosen all at one time. Toulouse Oliver on Tuesday said she hopes to allow straight-ticket voting in fall elections. The change would fulfill a campaign pledge. Also known as straight-party voting, the option was removed in 2012 elections by then-Secretary of State Dianna Duran.
Under New Mexico law, the state’s governor and lieutenant governor are forced to coexist in a sort of arranged marriage. Each runs in a separate primary election. This means major-party candidates for governor have no direct say-so about who will become their running mate in the general election. More importantly, says state Sen. Mark Moores, the system creates the very real possibility that the governor and lieutenant governor might not get along or agree on policy. So Moores, R-Albuquerque, and Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque, have introduced a bill to change the way lieutenant governor candidates are selected. Their proposal, Senate Bill 178, would eliminate primary elections for lieutenant governor.
By the time the 2016 presidential election rolled around, New Mexico had one of the lowest rates of voting-age citizens registered to vote. Only two-thirds of the state’s eligible voters had signed up to cast a ballot, compared to at least 80 percent in Maine and the District of Columbia, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Perhaps unsurprisingly, New Mexico also had one of the lowest rates of election turnout among its voting-age population. One state lawmaker wants to make it easier for people to vote through an amendment to the New Mexico Constitution that would require the state to ensure every citizen who is eligible to vote is at least registered.
The New Mexico Supreme Court on Tuesday cleared the way for ranked-choice voting in Santa Fe’s March 6 municipal election. The high court rejected city government’s petition seeking to overturn state District Judge David Thomson’s December ruling that Santa Fe had to implement ranked-choice voting, or RCV, in 2018. The Supreme Court’s order simply denied the city’s petition without explanation or comment. City spokesman Matt Ross said the decision was a disappointment, partly because no explanation was provided.
Santa Fe will indeed become the 12th U.S. city to use ranked-choice voting in municipal elections after the state Supreme Court on Tuesday swatted away a legal challenge to the implementation of the new format. The high court provided no explanation for its decision but effectively preserved the order of state District Court Judge David Thomson, who ruled in late November that because ranked-choice voting machine software is available, it must be used in the March election in accordance with the city’s charter. Thomson also ruled that the ranked-choice format, used in larger cities like San Francisco as well as smaller progressive enclaves such as Portland, Maine, adheres to a provision of the New Mexico constitution allowing home-rule municipalities such as Santa Fe to conduct runoff elections.
Final details regarding how ranked-choice voting will work in Santa Fe’s 2018 municipal election were hammered out late Wednesday, with the mayor and City Council adopting crucial definitions and what one councilor called the nation’s most “liberal” rules for handling improperly marked ballots. Only about a dozen jurisdictions in the country use RCV. The March 6 election in Santa Fe, in which voters will select a new mayor and four city councilors, will be the first RCV election in New Mexico. “I’m tired, but I feel really good about what we’ve done,” said City Councilor Joseph Maestas, whose name will be on the ballot as a candidate for mayor, near the end of a more than five-hour special meeting that followed a 90-minute study session on the same issue.
The most populous county in New Mexico also boasts the most innovative, modern and professional polling jurisdictions in the nation. According to a new report from the UNM Center for the Study of Voting, Elections and Democracy (C-SVED), Bernalillo County is at the forefront of election administration nationally. The 2016 Bernalillo County Election Administration Report also notes the efficiency, cost-effective and high-integrity of the county’s federal elections. “This report represents voters, poll workers and election observers’ overall evaluation of the effectiveness and quality of election administration,” said Lonna Atkeson, author of the report and director of the C-SVED. “It provides valuable insights on what local election officials are doing right and wrong and where they need to focus to make improvements.”
New Mexico: Santa Fe mayor proposes money, runoff for March ranked-choice election | Albuquerque Journal
The Santa Fe City Council on Wednesday will consider two new proposals related to the March 6 municipal election, which a district court judge last month ordered to be conducted using the ranked-choice voting method. One would create a new section in the city’s election ordinance that calls for a runoff election between the top two voter-getters if no one receives a majority of all votes cast, a possibility despite ranked-choice voting’s description as an “instant runoff.” The other amends the city’s public campaign financing ordinance to allow surplus funds to be used on a public education campaign about ranked-choice voting (RCV).