Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal
SANTA FE – For years, minor party candidates in New Mexico have been largely relegated to afterthought status, only rarely affecting high-profile state races.
But that could change under a legislative proposal to bring back “fusion voting,” which would allow minor parties – there are five such parties in New Mexico – to nominate a major party’s nominee for the general election ballot.
Eric Griego, a former state senator, said the system is already used by several other states and provides more information to voters about candidates’ values since they could, in theory, be nominated by several parties for the same election.
If the law had been in place for the 2020 election cycle, for instance, minor parties could have also nominated Joe Biden or Donald Trump as their candidate of choice for the presidential election.
That’s not allowable under New Mexico’s current election laws, which force “candidates to choose and voters to choose,” said Griego, who is the state director of New Mexico Working Families, a progressive-leaning minor political party with progressive views.
This year’s legislation, Senate Bill 100, is sponsored by Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque, and is awaiting its first committee hearing.
Under the bill, candidates would get all the votes cast for them, but vote results would be broken down by political party.
In addition, a candidate would be able to decline a minor party’s endorsement, Griego said.
The idea of fusion voting holds appeal to young voters such as Samuel Nevarez, a 27-year-old student at Central New Mexico Community College, who said many younger New Mexicans feel disillusioned by what’s essentially a two-party system.
“I just feel like this would be a good step in the direction of having young voters feel like their voices are heard,” Nevarez told the Journal.
As of December, there were nearly 1.4 million registered voters in New Mexico. Of that amount, 293,151 – or 21.6% of all voters – were independent voters who declined to state a party affiliation.
And many of those independent voters are younger, according to New Mexico voter registration data.
The five minor parties in New Mexico are the Green Party, the Better for America Party, the Constitution Party, the New Mexico Working Families Party and the Party for Socialism and Liberation.
The three major parties for the 2020 election cycle were the Republican Party, Democratic Party and Libertarian Party, which was elevated to major party status in 2018.