Curry County’s new sheriff was not selected by a majority of residents or even a majority of voters. Wesley Waller was the overwhelmingly choice of only those registered to vote as Republicans who participated in the 2014 primary election. He has no opponent in November, unless a minority candidate signs up for a miracle run by June 24.
Deaun Searl was elected Roosevelt County’s clerk on Tuesday; she defeated her only Republican opponent and, since no Democrat signed up to run against her in November, the job will likely be hers come Jan. 1. Never mind she did not receive a single vote from a single member of a minority party.
Those are just two reasons a lawsuit’s been filed asking that non party-affiliated voters be allowed access to the state’s primary election ballot.
About 19 percent of New Mexico’s registered voters have declined to state a party affiliation, according to Albuquerque attorney J. Edward Hollington, who has filed the lawsuit.
That’s more than 240,000 residents who could not cast a ballot on Tuesday.
Hollington’s lawsuit would allow those registered as DTS — declined to state — to request a major party ballot for primary elections. They could then vote for the Democratic or Republican candidates of their choice, Hollington said.
An editorial in the Albuquerque Journal tells us:
“Article II, Section 18 of the New Mexico Constitution states ‘all elections shall be free and equal.’ It does not include a qualifier ‘to those who have sworn allegiance to a major party ideology.’”
Hollington’s lawsuit, according to the Journal, says the Constitution states registered voters have the right to vote “at all elections for public officers.” Yet New Mexico is one of just 11 states with closed, i.e. party-centric, primaries.
“The structure is an anachronism that bends to the will of party bosses and caters to extreme political bents, robbing 20 percent of the independent-thinking voting public of their right to cast a ballot in the primary elections their tax dollars pay for,” the Journal’s editorial reads.
Locally, most registered voters are Republicans or Democrats — 78 percent in Curry County and 80 percent in Roosevelt County.
But Curry County has more than 5,000 registered as DTS and Roosevelt County has about 2,000 voters not registered as Republican or Democrat.
Since elections cost all taxpayers a lot of money — about $50,000 in Curry County this year — we think everyone should have a say in who wins, no matter their party affiliation.
Unsigned editorials are the opinion of the Portales News-Tribune’s editorial board, which consists of Publisher Mike Jensen and Editor David Stevens. All other views expressed on this page are those of their authors.