Senator aims to restore the straight-party voting option

SANTA FE — An effort to reinstate straight-party voting in New Mexico was given the go-ahead in the Senate Rules Committee on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 276 would allow voters to cast their ballot for every Republican or Democratic candidate on the ticket by checking a single box for the political party. The bill was supported 6-4 in the Senate Rules Committee. It now moves to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The decades-old practice in New Mexico was eliminated before the 2012 election after Republican Secretary of State Dianna Duran determined there wasn’t a state law that allowed the practice.

“I think it benefits the elderly,” said Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, the bill’s sponsor. “I think this gives them the ability to get in and out of there as quickly as possible.”

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But Republican critics said voters should be asked to consider every race on the ballot.

“I think you ought to have to take a little more time, I don’t care if you’re a ‘D’ or an ‘R,’ “said Sen. Stuart Ingle, R-Portales.

For the 2010 election — the last general election in which straight-party voting was available — straight-party votes occurred on 41 percent of the ballots cast statewide, according to the Secretary of State’s Office. Just over half of those ballots — 56 percent — were cast for the Democratic ticket.
— This article appeared on page A6 of the Albuquerque Journal

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