I wasn’t expecting to devote a second column to the New Mexico primary election, but far too many interesting things have taken place not to.
First and foremost, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled *unanimously* this week to deny a petition to hold a mail-only primary without absentee ballot applications on June 2.
Live-streamed by KNME, the UNM Public Broadcasting Service affiliate, Chief Justice Judith Nakamura cited state law in the decision, which came after a couple hours of deliberation: “A mailed ballot shall not be delivered by the county clerk to any person other than the applicant for the ballot.” The Secretary of State’s proposal was to simply send ballots to everyone on the voter rolls, without verification or attestation as to their identity.
The ruling will require election officials to send absentee ballot applications to all voters instead of simply mailing a ballot to registered voters. Also, in-person voting may proceed as long as it complies with the governor’s public health orders.
The primary election is just six weeks away. Chief Justice Nakamura also noted this, asking the counsel for the Secretary of State why delaying the primary wasn’t an option. The response was that delaying the primary would be a much greater change than holding a mail-only election. The GOP petitioners also did not request a delay.
That is absolutely nuts. Not only are states with more than tenfold registered voters than New Mexico delaying their own elections, both parties’ Presidential candidates have been named—so the national conventions, if allowed per public health guidelines at the time, can operate on time even of the primaries aren’t finished.
Moreover, no one can campaign. Face-to-face outreach is crucial to mobilize voters and is all but impossible now. Also worrying is that print shops are non-essential unless they also provide mail fulfillment services (fortunately there are some great print-and-mail shops in the state, so candidates don’t have to spend that money out of state). It’s utterly ridiculous to hold the primary the first week of June.
No one seems too worried about the candidates though. The parties are making their typical declarations: Democrats are crying about voter suppression, Republicans about voter fraud. It’s as if they forgot that their candidates need to actually campaign. Imagine trying to break into the political scene as a non-incumbent challenger this year.
Oh, wait. Now I know why both parties want to have a fast primary: to protect their incumbents. State party organizations are not allowed (allegedly) to favor one primary candidate over another in their own party. Of course it always happens, and this weird no-campaign election season gives perfect cover to incumbents.
It’s refreshing to see party leaders unite across the aisle to protect their favorites. Cronyism remains #nmtrue.
Thanks to KNME and New Mexico Political Report for great source material on this issue. You can watch the Supreme Court proceedings on KNME’s YouTube channel and you can read both petitions on the NMPR website.
One last snivel: Just stop completing Facebook quizzes. Like right now. Everyone is posting their senior high school photo, and school and year, in solidarity with #classof2020. What this means is just about anyone who wants your personal data can do a search for #classof2020 and capture your school and year. Combine that with the list of all the places you’ve lived that you posted last week, and criminals can apply for a mortgage with your identity. Remember, nothing is free on social media. You either pay with money, or you pay with data.
Merritt Hamilton Allen is a PR executive and retired Naval officer who graduated from Silver High School sometime in the last century. She is growing her own sourdough with her Democratic husband and Republican mother north of I-40 where they run two head each of dog and cat.