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Adopt open primaries in 2016

Regarding campaign accountability being as elusive as a piñata (Sept. 20), I would like your readers to consider a broader solution than Rep. James Roger Madalena, D-Jemez Pueblo, and the Journal suggested – which is to audit 100 percent of all campaign reports.

Going back to the 1980s, there have been calls for an independent ethics commission that could be tasked with these kinds of reviews. It would be nonpartisan and independent.

The appointment process could be worked out just as 42 other states have. Yes, we are one of only eight states without one, and we need one.

But, let’s look at the broader issue.

Why is the Secretary of State a partisan office? Is there anything about that office that seems like it should be partisan? Is there a conservative or liberal approach evident when it comes to oversight and regulation of the election system?

I think not.

How about we make it a nonpartisan office along with judges and law enforcement like many other states?

But hold on. If you follow the logic that the Secretary of State, judges and law enforcement are not inherently or should not be partisan offices, then take that logic one step further.

Are there any benefits to any offices being partisan? Doesn’t it seem that hyper-partisanship is the root cause of much of our political gridlock and dysfunction?

I am all for people banding together with like-minded people for a cause. God knows we need more activism in this country since most people are so frustrated with politics they checked out a long time ago.

But it is high time that we take a step back and ask ourselves if partisan elections and partisan office holders serve us well.

How incumbents creating their own districts year after year serves the public is beyond me. That is another function that should be taken over by a nonpartisan redistricting commission.

Former U.S. Sen. Bill Bradley once said that the parties’ main function in modern politics is to raise money and funnel it to true believers. This reinforces the left-right divide fracturing our country.

You should not have to join a party to vote, but right now you have to if you want to vote in the primaries.

New Mexico Open Primaries is a new nonprofit that advocates for nonpartisan primary elections so that independents, minor parties and everyone else can vote in every election.

Candidates are selected to move to the general election with no labels on a nonpartisan basis. Candidates and elected officials have to reach out to the whole political spectrum to get elected and stay elected which means they need to forge coalitions and compromise to actually get things done.

Three states have adopted nonpartisan primaries with the top two vote getters going to the general election and it has reduced partisan rancor, increased voter enthusiasm and improved the legislative process so that legislators actually work together to get things done or they don’t get re-elected.

New Mexico has an ethics problem, but we also have a campaign finance problem, an election system problem and a legislative process that works less well each year.

The 2016 legislative session is the perfect time to pass these needed reforms so that we create a trusted and functioning public election and legislative system of which hard working New Mexicans can be proud.

Bob Perls is a former Democratic state representative from Corrales.

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