Editorial: Requiring party affiliation to vote is undemocratic


It seems like they’re hoping we’ll forget, like forgetting to unsubscribe after a free trial offer for streaming movies or satellite radio that automatically punches your credit card if you don’t call and cancel within 90 days.

A former state lawmaker describes the new rule that will allow independent voters to vote in this year’s primaries as a “small step” toward opening the primary election.

But in reality, the proposal is a dishonest effort to herd unaccountable voters into major parties while lawmakers sidestep the issue of opening the primaries to the nearly one-quarter of New Mexico voters registered as independents.

State lawmakers in 2020 authorized the change that allows independent voters to show up at the polls in a primary election and vote. This year’s primary elections will be the first time the same-day party registration rule will be in effect. The old system closed voter lists four weeks before polling day.

But that comes with a catch: Independent voters, those who officially voluntarily register as “State Denied,” and those who register with a minor political party such as the New Brunswick Working Families Party. Mexico, will need to register with either the Democratic, Libertarian or Republican Party to receive that party’s ballot.

And to do so, voters must bring a New Mexico driver’s license or ID card issued by the state’s motor vehicle division or similar document with a photo showing their identity and address. . It’s ironic for a state legislature and governor largely opposed to any form of voter ID.

Independents will also not be able to cast absentee ballots during the primary unless they have relinquished their independence and declared an affiliation with a major party.

Bob Perls, a former state legislator, says the new system is a “small step” toward opening New Mexico’s primary elections to the growing number of New Mexicans who register without party affiliation.

But how does requiring party affiliation to vote not strengthen mainstream political parties?

Twenty-three percent of New Mexicans chose to register as independents, the fastest growing electoral bloc. The number of registered independents in New Mexico has increased 26% since 2014, far exceeding the 5% growth in voter registration overall.

This means something: a large number of New Mexicans do not want to be officially affiliated with one of the main political parties. They prefer to be independent. Yet the new system not only forces them to join a major party, it automatically keeps them registered with that major party in perpetuity.

DTS voters, who tend to be younger and of color, will need to remember to re-register as independents after the primary if they want to maintain their independent status. It is simply wrong.

There are currently 302,000 registered independents in New Mexico out of a total of approximately 1.3 million registered voters.

According to Brian Sanderoff, political analyst and president of Research & Polling Inc., the number of independents has grown significantly since 1990, when independents made up just 8% of the state’s registered voters. These figures show that more and more voters are disappointed, even disgusted, with a political system that caters to the extremes, especially in the primary races.

The new law may have been intended to help candidates entice unaffiliated voters to participate in the primaries, but anyone with a television can see daily that this is not happening. Current candidates for governor and attorney general are clearly targeting the extremes of their bases, not independents.

Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver said the change would grant the vote to independent voters who show up to vote in primary elections but are turned away because they are not registered with a major party. But professional insiders like Sanderoff wonder if it will really help.

U.S. too.

Sanderoff notes that not only should independent voters be motivated to run, but they should also be prepared to file paperwork at the polls to change their affiliation — a process that poll workers say takes five to 10 minutes.

“Frankly, I suspect most independents aren’t even aware of this change,” Sanderoff told the Journal.

New Mexico could better serve its citizens by truly opening the primaries to all voters, regardless of political affiliation. We do not support the idea of ​​allowing voters to vote in multiple primaries at once by “crossing over”, due to the potential for shenanigans like Rush Limbaugh’s “Operation Chaos” in 2008, when the talk show host -show encouraged Republicans to vote for Hillary Clinton. in the Democratic primaries to keep her in the race and split the Democratic Party.

A semi-closed system, however, in which voters choose only one primary to vote for offers some protections against “looting” of the other party’s nominating contest.

Rather, our legislature’s “small step” is a mechanism to dodge open primaries while forcing people to jump through unnecessary hoops and align themselves with a major political party just to vote.

Under Secretary of State Sharon Pino told the Journal it cost the state $5,751,707.47 to hold a primary election in 2020. That cost is expected to be between $5.5 million and $6 million. This year. The state, by law, pays for all costs, from printing ballots to paying poll workers.

This means that taxpayers foot the bill.

Thus, taxpayers pay the costs of holding elections, regardless of their voter registration status. They should be allowed to participate regardless of their voter registration status. And they shouldn’t have to jump on a partisan bandwagon to do so.

It is really misleading to say that the new rule opens the primaries. We just hope voters don’t forget to cancel those unwanted free trial registrations.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned because it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than that of the editors.


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