With thousands of young people on the march, women activated by the “#Me Too” movement, and a new crop of candidates for state elections, this year’s elections could be an indication of our state’s appetite for reforming a system that my organization, Common Cause New Mexico, has often found wanting.
Common Cause is a non-partisan organization that does not endorse candidates, but like all ordinary citizens, we have a vested interest in a functioning democratic system which represents the voices of everyday people. We’ve been focused on controlling the influence of big money and special interests on elections and the decision-making process, guaranteeing access for qualified voters, and holding our representatives to high ethical standards. We think it’s what democracy looks like.
This year we asked some different questions in our annual poll and found a few reasons to be optimistic.
First, the poll, taken by Research and Polling Inc. in January, found that only 24 percent of the 452 voters sampled felt New Mexico was on the right track, a much higher level of discontent than in the 2014 elections. It also showed an appetite for reforms never before taken seriously – things like paying legislators, which 54 percent support, and lengthening the legislative sessions, which 65 percent want to do. And along with the usual high level of support for things like transparency for PAC, lobbyist and campaign activities, there was something new – 60 percent of respondents said that they would be more likely to support candidates who push for campaign reforms like these.