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Another Push To Open Primary Elections In New Mexico

Kevin Meerschaert

Supporters of open primaries in New Mexico say this may be the year it becomes a reality.

A bill to allow non-party voters to cast a ballot in the state primary has again been introduced in the legislature.  


The bill would require parties to open up primaires to non-partisan voters. A voter who isn’t a registered Democrat or Republican would be allowed to cast their ballot in the party primary of their choice. The same rule would apply if Libertarians held a primary election.   
If a party chooses to close their primary, they would have to pick up the cost instead of taxpayers.
Similar legislation has been introduced the past six sessions over the years, but New Mexico Open Primaries founder Bob Perls says he’s optimistic this year it will make it through the legislature.

“All voters should be able to vote. You shouldn’t have to join a party to vote," he said. "Primary elections are public elections and right now independents or what we call Decline To State voters in New Mexico are not allowed to vote in primaries. That is wrong. It is unfair and it’s a violation of basic voting rights.”     


The open primary bill has been introduced in both chambers and has been sent to the House Government, Election and Indian Affairs and the Senate Rules Committees. Senate sponsor Bill Tallman says it’s only fair that if voters are paying for an election through their taxes, they should be allowed to participate in it.