Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Ds and Rs Join Hands in Bipartisan Unity ... to Stomp on Independents

In a rare display of bi-partisan unity in discussing legislation concerning elections, a House committee voted unanimously to effectively kill a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow unaffiliated voters to vote in primary elections.

Andy Nunez changing his voter registration to DTS last year
House Joint Resolution 17, sponsored by Rep. Andy Nuñez of Hatch — the only current independent legislator — would allow those registered as “declined to state” to request a Democratic or Republican ballot for the primary in June.

According to statistics on the Secretary of State’s website, as of Dec. 28, 17 percent of voters statewide are independents — which means they can’t participate in primary elections, which are paid for by the state.

In Santa Fe County, declined-to-states outnumber Republicans.

Nuñez said that 14 other states — including the early presidential primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire — allow open primaries. Viki Harrison, executive director of New Mexico Common Cause, testified in favor of the measure, saying that it would encourage participation in the electoral process.

 But both Democrats and Republicans on the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee argued that only those affiliated with a party should be allowed to chose candidates for that party. All four members present voted to table the joint resolution.

“I would do anything to get more people to vote,” committee chairwoman Rep. Gail Chasey, D-Albuquerque, said. Nuñez said he wasn’t surprised. “I knew where this was going when the Speaker (of the House) gave it three committee assignments,” he said.