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GET OUT THE VOTE
GOP argument cuts two ways
WITH GREAT INTEREST, I read GOP attorney John Anderson’s argument against an open primary (“Judge upholds New Mexico’s closed primary system,” March 19).
The Journal quotes him as saying the claimant wishing for an open primary claims he has a right to “participate in the internal process by which a party selects its standard bearer, despite his refusal to take any steps to affiliate with that party. …”
Ironically, this is the same argument used against the right-to-work law. Change a few words of Anderson’s statement and you get that any worker “claims a right to participate in the benefits negotiated by a union despite the worker’s refusal to take any steps to affiliate with that union.”
And, in fact, I believe this is the case: a non-union member does benefit from union negotiations. But a “decline-to-state” voter cannot participate in the “benefit” of candidate selection. Yes, an independent can attempt to run against the candidates of the two major parties.
However, in reality, these two parties hold most of the cards and dominate the final election. Yet, a large portion of the electorate has no say in who runs because they decline to state an affiliation to a single party.
Given the GOP’s support of a right-to-work law, I’m left wondering if they would buy the same argument against such a law that they use in support of closed primaries. In other words, if this argument against open primaries makes sense, then it should also make sense against right-to-work laws. In both situations, you have someone who declines to join a party/union. But, in one case, the party is left out of the process and, in the other case, the party gains the benefits.
Our taxes pay for primaries
AS A FORMER Democratic New Mexico state representative and former co-chair of a New Mexico state Democratic Convention (2000), I want to congratulate independent voter David Crum and his attorney on taking the time to challenge New Mexico’s closed primary system.
I understand the old, tired argument, but it is a Democratic and Republican primary – why shouldn’t the parties decide who can vote in their primaries?
The answer is: Because our tax dollars pay for primary elections and it is illegal – or should be once the courts catch up based on the New Mexico anti-donation clause – for public dollars to go to private associations. We don’t tolerate it in any situation except the most important activity we do in our country – when we vote. Since primary elections are paid for by the public through government funds, then everyone must be allowed to participate or the government is violating the anti-donation clause of our state constitution by paying for a private association to make a private decision. If the parties want to exclude non-party members, then they should pay for their primary election.
Would we allow a party caucus to decide how and when to fund the police? The jails? The Forest Service? Why do (we) allow a private party function to decide who can vote? Yes, the parties can decide who they want to represent them and then send that person into a first-round vote – at the moment called a primary. However, they have no right to control that first-round vote.
The ideal primary system would be an open primary where the top two vote-getters from any party or non-party go to the general election so that all voters can participate in the first and second rounds.
One of the most sacred tenets of our country is “one person, one vote.” By excluding independents, minor parties or even members of the opposition party from voting in a party’s primary, this sacred tenet is violated.
As always, New Mexico is behind the times, and our polarized and rancorous politics speaks to the dysfunction.