The New Mexico open primaries legislation HJR12 passed a vote today at the State Legislature (1/30/2016) in the Government, Elections & Indian Affairs Committee. One step closer to open primaries in New Mexico!
New Mexico Representative Moe Maestas just introduced legislation to bring nonpartisan elections to the state. Currently, 240,000 registered voters in New Mexico are denied their right to cast a vote in primary elections; yet these elections are paid for with their tax dollars. It’s a violation of their rights, but you could do something about it.
Here’s how you can help: Call a legislator and make a difference.
There is an important committee vote on Friday, January 29th. If the bill passes, those 240,000 New Mexican voters will be one step closer to having a real voice in our elections. But, the members of the committee don’t know that New Mexicans care. We need you to call them and let them know.
It would only take a minute, but your call could literally make the difference between passing or failing. Just click the link below to take action. When you speak to the legislator, tell them that you are supporting Representative Maestas’s bill, HJR12 so that 240,000 New Mexican voters can cast a vote in elections that their tax dollars are paying for.
Again: The committee will vote on the bill on Friday, Jan 29 @ 8:30AM
Here is a link to a PDF containing the Crum vs. Duran Et Al filing with the New Mexico Court of Appeals.
New Mexico Open Primaries President Bob Perls on The Morning Brew
December 16, 2015
Many of us share the frustration of political gridlock and rising apathy in our increasingly partisan system. We are a part of a political process and system that is broken and gives us few options.
New Mexico Open Primaries 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. We have seen partisan rancor reduced, increased voter enthusiasm and an improved legislative process where legislators work together.
New Mexico Open Primaries' commitment is to educate the public and to lead education campaigns to enact legislation that ensures that all can vote and have an impact on all elections. The more diverse the participation, the more our representatives’ decisions will reflect the will of the people.
If you support this commitment and want to be a part of this movement we ask that you consider making a contribution to New Mexico Open Primaries. Every dollar raised goes toward continuing to educate the public and elected officials about ways we can and must change our political system so that problems are solved, compromise is made and gridlock ends.
Please donate online by following the link here or make checks payable to:
644 Dixon Road
Corrales, NM 87048
If you have recently made a gift please accept our sincere thanks.
Thank you for your support and have a happy holiday season.
New Mexico Open Primaries
Op-Ed Albuquerque Journal
Regarding campaign accountability being as elusive as a piñata (September 20), I would
like your readers to consider a broader solution than Representative Madalena 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. They would be non-partisan 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 non-partisan 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 non-partisan re-districting commission.
Former U.S. Senator 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 (nmopenprimaries.org) is a new non-
profit that advocates for non-partisan 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 non-partisan 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 non-partisan 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.
Founder, New Mexico Open Primaries
Former New Mexico State Representative
September 3, 2015
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, Ed Hollington, on taking the time to challenge New Mexico’s closed primary system. Their argument is persuasive; that a 1969 law enacted by the legislature that empowered the two major parties to run primary elections and allowed them to exclude those not registered to a major party is unconstitutional. This clearly conflicts with the New Mexico constitution’s Bill of Rights that affirms all eligible voters must be allowed to vote. They are appealing to a state appellate court and hopefully there will be a court decision soon.
I understand the old, tired argument that it is a Democratic and Republican primary-why shouldn’t the parties decide who can vote in their primaries? Beyond the argument that the Crum court case highlights, there is another reason why independents should be allowed to vote in all elections and why parties should not control public elections.
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 (political parties are private clubs). We don’t tolerate it in any situation except the most important activity we do in our country-when we vote. Why have we privatized voting? The State should be running elections, not political parties. One should not have to join a political party to vote.
Since primary elections are paid for by the public through government funds, 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 run a private election. If the parties want to exclude non-party members, then they should pay for their own nominating process. If we want free and fair elections, then the State should pay them and allow all voters to vote in the first and second round elections.
Would we allow a Party caucus to decide how and when to fund the police? The jails? The forest service? Why do allow a private party 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 should have no right to control that first round vote.
A new non-profit, called New Mexico Open Primaries (www.nmopenprimaries.org), has been founded to educate New Mexico voters about the advantages of non-partisan primaries with the top two going to the general election. Nebraska, Washington and California have adopted such a system in the last few years and it is bringing an end to partisan gridlock, increasing voter turnout and rewarding coalition builders and problem solvers at the expense of divide and conquer, smear campaign strategies.
We also believe the district line drawing process should be removed from the political environment. It should not be up to incumbents to decide who their constituents will be. This results all too often in legislative districts that have little to do with communities of interest, and much to do with padding the incumbent’s re-election margins.
One of the most sacred tenets of our country is one person, one vote. By excluding independents and minor parties from voting in a primary election, this sacred tenet is violated. Non-partisan elections combined with non-partisan, independent redistricting commissions can increase voter confidence and participation while creating an environment for elected officials that rewards problem solving and reaching across the aisle.
Founder, New Mexico Open Primaries
Former New Mexico State Representative
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE August 18, 2015
National: Kellie Ryan
New Mexico: Bob Perls
Founder, New Mexico Open Primaries
Open Primaries Details the Early Successes from California’s Adoption of a Top Two Nonpartisan Primary
New York, NY-August 19, 2015
In 2010, voters in California enacted a “Top Two” nonpartisan primary system, allowing all voters-whether registered to a party or not- to participate in primary elections. New Mexico Open Primaries is dedicated to making the same reform happen soon in New Mexico.
Open Primaries, a national leader on election reform, has released a new report outlining the deep and meaningful impact that this change has had on California politics.
A Quiet Revolution: The Early Success of California’s Top Two Nonpartisan Primary outlines the sea change in voter access and representation, competitive elections, and a new, more cooperative state legislature engaged in cross party dialogue.
The authors of the reform are Jason Olson, the President of Independentvoice.org, a San Francisco based organization of independent voters, and Dr. Omar Ali, a history professor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and expert scholar on populist democracy movements.
“Quantifying the performance of a state legislature is a notoriously difficult task. Performance is, by definition, subjective. We can assert that legislators who win office by building broad coalitions do the same once in office. An electoral system that incentivizes candidates to reach beyond the activist base of their own party produces similar behavior once in office.”
Jason Olson and Omar Ali, A Quiet Revolution: The Early Success of California’s Top Two Nonpartisan Primary
California used to be considered one of the most partisan political environments in the nation. Runaway deficits and gridlocked budgets were standard. A National Journal review of state governments named California among the most dysfunctional state governments in the United States.
Today, with significant reforms to their primary election system, California politics has been transformed.
The report finds that California, as a result of adoption of a top two nonpartisan primary elections system, now has:
More Competitive Elections: Only two State Assembly and Congressional incumbents were unseated during the entire decade of 2000-2009, and both were under criminal investigation. Today, under the top two system, California elections are the most competitive in the nation.
Increased Voter Access: Independent voters, 25% of the California electorate, can now vote in the first round. Voters registered with a political party have more choice as they can choose from candidates from all parties, not just their own. Third party candidates and third party voters are no longer excluded from the first round of elections, in which the vast majority of races were decided. African American and Latinos—who are increasingly independent—have increased their representation and voice in the state legislature.
Functioning Legislature: The polarization in Sacramento has dissipated. Legislators, who win office by building broad coalitions, are capable of reaching across the aisle once elected. Regular balanced budgets have returned. Reforms in education financing, immigration, and gun control, reforms that would have previously provoked partisan intransigence, have been enacted.
The success of Top Two in California, coupled with similar successes in Washington and Nebraska and the growth of independent voters (43% in the latest Gallup poll), have contributed to the growth of the primary reform movement nationally. Activists in Alaska, Arizona, South Dakota, and Florida are working to place nonpartisan primary measures directly on the ballot. Legislators and Secretaries of State in Mississippi, Illinois, New Mexico and Oklahoma are working to advance legislation for open primaries.
The full report is available at: http://www.openprimaries.org/research_california
Available for Interview
Jason Olson co-author of A Quiet Revolution (based in San Francisco)
Omar Ali, co-author of A Quiet Revolution (based in North Carolina)
John Opdycke, President of Open Primaries (based in New York City)
Bob Perls, Founder, New Mexico Open Primaries (based in Corrales, NM)
About Open Primaries
Open Primaries is a national, nonprofit 501(c)(4) organization working to enact open and nonpartisan primary systems, counter efforts to impose closed primaries, educate voters, train and support spokespeople, and participate in the building of local, state and national open primaries coalitions. Open Primaries is a movement of diverse Americans who believe in a simple, yet radical idea: no American should be required to join a political party to exercise their right to vote.
More information about Open Primaries, its mission and work, can be found at www.openprimaries.org
More information about NMOP can be found at http://www.nmopenprimaries.org
NEW MEXICO OPEN PRIMARIES
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
07/26/15 3:00 p.m.
2309 Renard Place, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Bob Perls, Bill Adkison, Sarah Cobb, George Richmond, Eddy Aragon, and Ed Hollington
Absent: Barry Bitzer
David Walker, Ben Blackwell, and David Nelson
Call to Order by Bob Perls at 3:00 p.m., MDT.
A quorum was present.
1. The bylaws of the New Mexico Open Primaries, a New Mexico non-profit corporation were presented to the Board of Directors and upon a motion duly made and seconded, the bylaws were unanimously adopted.
2. Election of Officers
The following officers were unanimously elected by the Board of Directors:
i. Bob Perls, President
ii. J. Edward Hollington, Secretary
iii. George Richmond, Treasurer.
Bob Perls, President, presided over the Board of Directors’ meeting.
President Perls presented a report of income and expenses to date and a motion was duly made and seconded and by unanimous vote approval was given to reimburse the President for expenses which were incurred by the President on behalf of the corporation.
Treasurer Richmond presented a form of “Tax Deductible” letter to be provided to contributors and also reported that he would contact a CPA regarding the time requirements for completing a 501[c] application with the IRS.
4. Volunteer Coordinator
A motion was made and seconded and by unanimous vote, Sarah Cobb was appointed to serve as Volunteer Coordinator.
5. Meeting adjourned at 3:35 p.m. The Board of Directors adjourned to convene a general membership meeting in addition to the Board of Directors being present, David Walker, Ben Blackwell, and David Nelson, general members, were also present for discussions regarding the mission, goals, and objectives. Messaging were discussed with excellent input from Board of Directors and general members. The Mission Statement was reviewed and discussed and revisions will be made by the President as discussed with the goal of keeping the message simple and non-confrontational. It was also agreed that for the time being, the President will be the official spokesman on behalf of the corporation.
6. Opportunities for speaking engagements were discussed and it was agreed that Sarah Cobb would assist in the “vetting” process for speaking engagements for the President.
7. The meeting of the Board of Directors reconvened at 4:15 p.m.
8. Business Plan
President Perls discussed the need for a detailed business plan and provided a template Business Plan that had been provided by John Opdycke, of the National Open Primaries organization. The President explained a business plan was necessary and helpful in soliciting contributions, especially from foundations. Board member Aragon graciously volunteered to take the lead in preparing a business plan. Board member Adkison emphasized the importance of establishing a 3-month, 6-month, and 12-month organizational plans with objectives.
Treasurer Richmond provided a hand-out from Fair Vote organization and prompted a general discussion about association with other organizations, particularly national organizations involved in similar open primary projects. It was agreed that communications with those organizations could be an important resource and should be continued.
9. Crum vs. Secretary of State - lawsuit
This lawsuit is to declare closed primaries unconstitutional. Secretary Hollington gave an update on the case explaining the district court judge had ruled against Plaintiff Crum but in doing so, had failed to address the constitutional arguments. This case is now before the NM Court of Appeals. Secretary Hollington will provide copies of the brief filed in the NM Court of Appeals to all board members and has volunteered to make himself available for any questions and more detailed explanations when needed about the lawsuit.
10. Outreach and marketing
Board members and general members in attendance engaged extensive discussions regarding outreach including reviewing the website, giving constructive criticism, and hosting private home/open primary neighborhood meetings. It was also agreed the corporation should extend outreach to involve more diverse members. President Perls presented handouts which his wife produced and various comments and suggestions were made regarding messaging and it was agreed that having handouts, particularly when attending neighborhood meetings, and giving talks would be very beneficial.
The next meeting of the Board of Directors is scheduled for September 9, 2015 at 6:00 p.m. at a restaurant to be announced.
Upon a motion duly made and seconded, and by unanimous vote of the Board of Directors, the meeting was adjourned at 5:05 p.m.