Continue election law reform to save money, boost turnout

I first voted at Fire Station 5 when I moved here 18 years ago because then voters had to vote in their precinct. But now, with the advent of computers and some common sense, voters can vote early at a number of early voting centers by simply giving their name and address.

But wait, the ballot is still printed in both English and Spanish, which wastes paper and costs more because voters only need either an English or Spanish ballot – but not both.

Perhaps our New Mexico attorney general and secretary of state can just declare that ballots need be printed in either, but not both, languages.

I see nothing in the New Mexico Constitution, Article VII, Elective Franchise, on this point. But if the Constitution on elections needs be changed, let’s drop the sentence that school elections be held at different times from other elections.

Again, it costs money to hold elections so moving the elections to the same date, say using the federal standard of first Tuesday in November is best for all New Mexico elections, and perhaps the city elections can be moved to that date as well.

But for the primary election, let’s consider the first Saturday in June, to increase ease in voting and getting a higher voter turnout. And all voters, including DTS or declined to state, otherwise known as independents, should vote then as so stated in Article VII, Section 1, that all voters shall be qualified to vote at all elections for public office.

If the two political parties want to hold closed primary elections, and exclude DTS voters, then the parties can pay for them, and not the taxpayers.

Moving the presidential primaries to say, the last Saturday in February would help move New Mexico to having some impact on the choice of candidate while now, the June primary for president means that New Mexico has no impact on the choice for president.

There is much more that can and should be done to modernize the New Mexico election process such as more fair election districts, top two candidates in primaries going to the general election, more disclosure on donors to election campaigns, and much more.

The time to start is now, then at the next legislative session.

George Richmond is a member of the League of Women Voters-Central New Mexico and on the board of New Mexico Open Primaries. This letter reflect his views and not necessarily those of the two organizations.

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