from Ballot Access News
New Mexico Eases Primary Ballot Access Burden for Some Candidates
March 21st, 2009
On March 17, the New Mexico legislature passed SB 3, which says that candidates for certain offices who are seeking a place on a primary ballot no longer need a petition. The only offices affected are District Judge, District Attorney, State Board of Education, Public Regulation Commission, and Magistrate, all partisan offices. Assuming this bill is signed, candidates seeking a place on a primary ballot for these offices will only need a declaration of candidacy and a modest filing fee.
SB 3 passed because of a decision of the State Supreme Court last year, Sederwall v Herrera. Although the existing New Mexico election law says that primary candidates for these county and district offices need a petition, in practice, they had not been filing petitions, and they had been getting on primary ballots anyway. But an independent candidate for Sheriff of Lincoln County had been barred from the ballot because he had not submitted a general election petition of 3% of the county’s last vote (201 signatures). He had sued and pointed out that his Republican opponent, incumbent Sheriff Rick Virden, had never filed any petition to be on the Republican primary ballot. The Supreme Court had then put both candidates on the ballot. Virden had defeated Sederwall by 73% to 27%.
Now that the legislature has specified that primary candidates for county and some district offices no longer need primary petitions, it may be easier for a qualified minor party to sue over the law that says its convention nominees for those offices must submit petitions.