The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Secretary of State announces plans for straight-party voting


August 31, 2018

ALBUQUERQUE— New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver on Wednesday announced her plans to bring back straight-party voting for the Nov. 6 general election. Reaction has largely been consistent across party lines.

Rube Render, a Clovis city commissioner and the Curry County Republican chairman, said straight-party voting negatively targets Republicans but really is a bad idea for all parties.

“As the Republican Party chairman, I think that is done specifically to hurt Republicans,” Render said. “I believe that voting that way where you just pull a lever is not a good way for either side. I just don’t think that that’s the way votes were intended to be taken.”

Rep. George Dodge, D-Santa Rosa, the lone local Democrat in the state Legislature, said the decision is for the secretary of state to make.

“I’ve never voted straight party in my life but she did what she did and it was her decision,” Dodge said.

Dodge said he did not believe the decision would have a considerable effect on local elections.

“I think that in our area we vote the issues and we vote the person,” Dodge said.

Asked if there were any benefits to straight-party voting, Dodge said, “I don’t know, it’s been gone for what eight years now so I don’t know what effect it will have.”

Render said more onus needs to be put on the voter than just checking a box or pulling a lever related to only one political party.

“In most cases the best person is not straight down one side of the ticket,” Render said.

Toulouse Oliver, a Democrat, informed county clerks about the move on Wednesday morning and said in a statement it was intended to give more options to New Mexico voters.

“As secretary of state, I am committed to making it easier - not harder - for New Mexicans to vote,” Toulouse Oliver said. “From moms juggling work and kids to elderly veterans who find it hard to stand for long, straight-party voting provides an option for voters that allows their voices to be heard while cutting in half the time it takes them to cast their ballot.”

But state Republican Party Chairman Ryan Cangiolosi blasted the move as politically driven, claiming it could bolster Toulouse Oliver’s own re-election bid.

“Straight-ticket voting is an attempt to rig the system in favor of Democrats and turn New Mexico into a one-party state,” said Cangiolosi, who added the state GOP would be filing a lawsuit in an attempt to prevent the implementation of straight-ticket voting.

New Mexico Libertarian Party Chairman Chris Luchini also said his party was considering filing a lawsuit, describing the reinstatement of straight-ticket voting as “naked partisanship.”

Former Secretary of State Dianna Duran, a Republican, eliminated straight-party voting in 2012, saying the state election code did not specifically allow the practice. Several bills were subsequently proposed in the Legislature to authorize it, but none was ultimately enacted.

Overall, more than 1.2 million New Mexicans were registered to vote as of July 31, and Democrats hold a decisive edge in numbers.

There were 570,542 Democrats— or about 46 percent of the state’s registered voters - compared with 378,695 Republicans - more than 30 percent of voters— and 8,796 Libertarians, who also have major party status for this year’s election cycle.

Voters who declined to state their political affiliation or are affiliated with minor political parties made up the remaining 23 percent of New Mexico voters, as about 284,000 people fit into that category.


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