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Our View: Open primaries? Start talking

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Posted: Sunday, June 16, 2013 7:00 pm

Election reform is one of those important but often neglected topics — people know it matters, but they can’t bring themselves to pay attention. Yet, with a few changes to how New Mexico conducts elections (we can talk about national reforms another time), the state’s election process would be open to more citizens.

One key to changing the process is reconsidering how the state’s primaries are conducted. Right now, only registered party members can participate. A registered Democrat can vote only in the Democratic primary; a registered Republican in the Republican primary, and so on. However, some 18 percent, or 230,839 of New Mexicans, do not identify with a political party. As independents, they do not get to vote in the June primaries. What that means on a practical level, since so many candidates for elected office don’t face opposition come November, is that important decisions are made in June, when mostly party loyalists are paying attention. Plus, since the state pays for primaries — not the political parties — a significant number of voters whose taxes pay for the election can’t participate.

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