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Sept. 21 - Growing Number Of Americans Push For Open Primary Elections

Sep 21, 2015

There’s a move afoot both in New Mexico and nationwide pushing for the concept of open primary elections. The effort centers on what supporters call a simple, yet radical idea: that no American should be required to join a political party to exercise their right to vote. 

Supporters point out that during the 1920's, partisan primary elections were enacted to curb the power of party bosses and bring voters into the process of selecting party nominees. But today, they note that 40-percent of U-S voters do not wish to enroll in a political party, and closed primaries bar them from voting.  They also say closed primaries make it more difficult for new coalitions to form and for Americans--both voters and elected officials--to come together across ideological lines. Bob Perls is a former Democratic New Mexico State Representative as well as founder and executive director of the non-profit New Mexico Open Primaries. Perls says the problem in both New Mexico and nationwide is what he terms the “hyper-partisanship” and political gridlock, resulting in a government that seems more interested in winning the next election rather than governing and problem-solving.

Governor Susana Martinez is on the record saying she’d support a plan allowing voters without a party affiliation to vote in the state’s primary elections. Martinez telling the Albuquerque Journal she supports the idea because it is important for all voters to be allowed to participate in primaries, and added, quote:  “Just because they don’t see themselves as completely Republican or completely a Democrat doesn’t mean that they don’t have candidates that they want to vote for, but because they haven’t declared a party aren’t able to vote at all.”