Senate Committee Throws Support Behind Open Primaries In New Mexico
New Mexico is one step closer to having open primary elections after the Senate Rules Committee Friday voted to support allowing Declined to State and minor party members to vote in the primary election of their choice.
The committee discussed three bills to open the primary election process. All would open up primary elections to non-party affiliated voters.
The only one to receive a Do Pass recommendation was SB 73, co-sponsored by Democratic Senators Bill O’Neill, Siah Correa Hemphill and Rep. Dayan Hochman-Vigil.
It would allow voters who aren’t registered as a Republican, Democrat or Libertarian to vote in the party primary of their choice.
The vote was bipartisan with only Senate Minority Floor Leader Gregory Baca voting against it.
O’Neill says he was happy with the outcome and says open primaries are better for Democracy and will increase voter participation.
“The partisans who are freaked out by the notion their whole world is going to go crazy if independants are going to be able to vote, the irony to me as a proud Democrat (is to) bring it on,” he said. “Bring those independents our way, what’s the problem?”
The two other primary election bills discussed were SB 175, introduced by Republican Senator Gregg Schmedes. It would have allowed any voter to cast a ballot in the primary of their choice, regardless of party affiliation. The committee gave that bill a Do Not Pass recommendation. But it will move forward in the committee process.
SJR 07 co-sponsored by Democrats Senator Bill Tallman and Representative Joy Garratt would have the state move to a ranked based system, like now exists in Alaska with the top five candidates moving on to the General Election. That bill was tabled which will prevent it from moving on to any other committees.
Several Senators said they are not totally opposed to ranked voting or a jungle primary, but since that move would require a change to the state constitution, they couldn’t support it.
The two other open primary bills will now head to the Senate Judiciary Committee.