The Fight for Open Elections - New Mexico
Posted by John Opdycke on December 10, 2018 at 12:56 PM
By John Opdycke, Open Primaries.
On November 13th, Open Primaries Education Fund (OPEF) filed a lawsuit against New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver challenging the state’s expenditure of funds to supervise and administer its closed primary elections. New Mexico is one of only 9 states with completely closed primary elections, which disenfranchise the state’s 270,000 registered independent voters -- 22% of New Mexicans and the fastest growing segment of the electorate.
At issue is the unconstitutional use of taxpayer money to pay for primary elections that benefit private political party activities. Specifically, OPEF argues that the current system violates the anti-donation clause of the New Mexico Constitution, which reads:
“Neither the state nor any county, school district, or municipality, except as otherwise provided in this constitution, shall directly or indirectly lend or pledge its credit or make any donation to or in aid of any person, association, or public or private corporation.” N.M. Const. Article IX, Sec. 14.
As explained in the lawsuit, “New Mexico’s closed primary elections are exclusionary and held for the benefit of major political parties, which are purely private entities. Even though the primary election is closed and exclusionary, primary elections are paid for by public funds and New Mexico taxpayers, while the major political parties reap the benefits.”
OPEF is seeking a writ of mandamus from the New Mexico Supreme Court to compel the Secretary of State to cease expending public funds on the implementation of party primary elections under the existing electoral framework. If successful, this case will force a dramatic change in current primary elections in New Mexico -- the parties will be required to open their primaries to all voters in order to receive state funding. It may also lead to challenges in other states, as more taxpayers see how both the Democrat and Republican parties manipulate elections to serve their interests at the expense of every American.
Jeremy Gruber, Senior Vice President at Open Primaries and a member of the legal team that brought the case, is available to brief Bridge Alliance and other civic, legal and reform organizations who are interested in learning more about this case. If you would like to schedule a phone or skype briefing, please submit a request to Jgruber@openprimaries.org.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog post are strictly those of the author and do not represent the views of the Bridge Alliance Education Fund, the Bridge Alliance, or the Bridge Alliance’s member organizations. Additionally, the Bridge Alliance Education Fund makes no representations as to the accuracy of this post’s contents.