A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
June 1, 2006
There’s a nifty little shindig going on next Tuesday. I’m helping pay for it.
But I’m not invited to join in the fun.
I’m talking, of course, about the 2006 primary, where Democrats and Republicans will be allowed to choose their nominees for the November election.
But I’m not a Democrat or Republican. I’m a proud member of the DTS classification. (That stands for “Declined to State,” not “Dedicated to Satan.”)
Many of us still use the word “independent.”
According to statistics on the Secretary of State’s Web site, 15 percent of New Mexico voters registered under DTS, while members of minor parties account for another 2 percent of the state’s registered voters.
In Santa Fe County, it’s 17 percent DTS, 3 percent minor parties.
That means that in this county a full 20 percent of registered voters are not allowed to participate in Tuesday’s election to help select candidates for the November general-election ballot.
Except to help pay for it.
State Election Bureau Director Ernest Marquez said Wednesday that the last primary cost taxpayers between $400,000 and $500,000.
The Founding Fathers had a catchy little phrase for such an arrangement: “taxation without representation.”
Doesn’t this smell like a lawsuit waiting to happen?
What to do?: One solution would be to let the parties run and pay for their own primaries. The state Democratic Party managed to pull off a similar operation in 2004 with their presidential-preference caucus.
Another approach would be an “open primary” in which voters of any affiliation could chose to vote in whichever party’s primary they chose. In other words, if you were enthralled by one of the three Republican Senate candidates, you could choose to vote in the GOP primary, no matter how you’re registered with regard to party affiliation. Or if you have a keen interest in the three Dems running for attorney general, you could choose to vote in the Democratic primary.
Twenty-one states do it this way.
The fear, of course, is mischief by the opposing party — Democrats voting for a Republican crook or goofball and vice versa — to assure a weak opponent in the general election. I guess that’s a possibility, though both sides have to realize such tactics could backfire.
(And even states with closed primaries have been known to elect crooks and goofballs from time to time.)
But don’t worry, fellow DTSers. Even though all the campaigns are ignoring you now, in a few months, all of them are going to want to be your friend. At least the ones who survive the primaries.
Campaign finance: The latest round of campaign-finance reports are due today. A day before the deadline, at least one candidate already was touting his numbers.
Democrat Moises Morales, trying to unseat Rep. Debbie Rodella in District 41, said Wednesday that he has doubled his treasury in the last month. He’ll be reporting he has collected a total of about $8,000 for his campaign.
Rodella has collected more. As of last month, she still had more than $17,000 cash on hand. That number is likely to rise today.
Morales has made an issue of Rodella’s contributor list, noting a large share of her cash came from out-of-state corporations. A spokeswoman for Morales said he only has two contributions from outside New Mexico — both from farmers in Wyoming. The larger of those two contributions is $200.
Thursday, June 01, 2006
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The primary should not only be open to all voters, but also to all candidates, not just those affiliated with a major political party. We could have just a single primary, with all candidates on the same ballot, and instant runoff voting. The top two vote-getters would be the only options in the final election.
The primary ballot could show party affiliation and indicate whether a candidate had been nominated by a party convention. Straight-ticket voting would be eliminated in the general election, and good riddance.
In areas where one party is dominant, the final election might pair two candidates from the same party, with everyone able to participate in the final choice.