Open Primary Bill Approved By NM House Committee
A bill that would allow non-party aligned voters to cast ballots in New Mexico primary elections has been approved in a house committee.
The bill would allow any voter without a party registration to vote in the primary of their choice. The voter would only have to ask for either party ballot. A voter would only be eligible to vote in one party and not be able to split votes between Democrats and Republicans in the primary election.
The move has long been championed by voting rights activists who say it isn’t right for voters to be denied the opportunity to cast a ballot if taxpayers are footing the bill for the election.
Co-sponsor Representative Kelly Fajardo said the bill would help energize young voters who don’t want to subject themselves to a party label.
“This allows, especially the younger and millennials to get more involved, to have a more active voice and to get involved in their democracy,” she said. “It’s not about party loyalty but it needs to be about voter loyalty. Giving the voter the opportunity to pick and decide who they want.”
The bill passed the House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee on a 6-3 party line vote.
Republican Bill Rehm says it’s already easy enough for voters to switch to a party to vote in a primary and then switch back if they wish.
As of December, about 23-percent of New Mexico’s voters are not registered to either major party.
The bill will next be heard in the House Judicial Committee.