New Mexico eases primary ballot access burden

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.

One thought on “New Mexico eases primary ballot access burden

  1. Mato Ska

    From SB3: “All candidates seeking primary election nomination to a statewide office or the office of United States representative shall file declarations of candidacy with the proper filing officer. ”

    This language in the bill points to a more obvious motive in opening up the Democratic party primary and undermines major party status for third parties. Major party status in NM had been based on the ability of the party to receive 5% of the vote in statewide elections. Those are the very positions that have been singled out in this bill. Except of course for the Governor’s race. It was Attny. Gen. Patricia Madrid who changed the requirement from statewide candidates to the Governor’s and Presidential races.

    Green Party major party status in NM has been singled out in the past by Democrats who tried to pass a bill requiring a party have 10% of all registered voters in NM in order to cross the threshold for major party status. Opening their ballot line for the primary is clearly a way of incorporating opposition candidates on a Democratic Party ballot line.

    I really doubt that Republicans in NM were the driving force behind the bill, although its sponsor is admittedly a Republican. A 36-0 vote in the State Senate indicates that Dems were clearly facilitating the passage of SB3 for their own reasons.

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