Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Running Clean in Albuquerque

With elections underway in Albuquerque, Voting Matters wants to thank the candidates who are using the public campaign financing system to run their campaigns. This year, only 3 of the 7 candidates for council opted in to this system that takes private money out of elections.

Those three candidates are Isaac Benton (district 2), Israel Chavez (district 4), and Pat Davis (district 6).

We have long advocated for public financing because winning candidates end up beholden not to any special interest groups, corporations, or wealthy individuals, but rather to the public at large- and that is how it should be. Public financing has been under attack from people who want to be able to buy elections. But Albuquerque has persevered by amending its system to conform with unreasonable court decisions, and we are proud of the city, Issac, Israel, and Pat for demonstrating their faith in fair elections.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Legislature adjourns without passing any election related bills

As expected, last Saturday when the legislature adjourned, they did so without sending any electoral reforms to the governor.

Frankly, there was little hope that anything good would come of the session from the get-go.

A couple of good bills were introduced, like Carl Trujillo's Resolution to create an independent redistricting commission, and Peter Wirth's attempt to expand the public campaign financing system to include legislative candidates. but neither of these even made it out of its first committee.

Bills to allow election day voter registration and permitting parties to invite independents to vote in primaries also both failed. Only a bill cleaning up voter registration procedures made it through.

Noticeably absent this year were bills clarifying new minor party and candidate filing deadlines (currently a new party and all of its candidates must file on the same day). Nor did the legislature address municipalities who want to use Ranked Choice Voting but cannot get compatible voting machines and software.

And we are probably waiting in vain for the state legislature to look into moving to a truly representative democracy by switching to proportional representation, or to enfranchise every citizen through a system of universal representation, as Oregon just moved towards doing.

With the legislature adjourned, the next few posts will look specifically at low voter turnout, and ways that our country could reclaim the mantle of world's greatest democracy by turning these abyssmal figures around.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

HB 340- Voter ID

The near complete lack of attention to election issues in this year's legislative session has been frustrating, to say the least.

One bad bill worth watching is HB 340, which would require voters to show state issued ID cards in order to cast their ballots. HB 340 passed both Government and Judiciary Committees last week and is scheduled for a floor vote today.

If it passes, it will head over to the Senate, where it faces an uncertain fate.

HB 340 does carry a provision to ensure that potential voters can be provided "provisional" IDs at no charge- if they can go down to their county clerk's office- not always an easy task for a person without a driver's license living in a rural area.

Then, in a further twist of malevolence, the bill stipulates that the counties will be reimbursed from the state's public campaign financing fund!

But the oddest thing about HB 340 is the proposal to include photos of all voters on the voting rosters supplied to each precinct.

Can you imagine being told you cannot vote because you don't look like the picture on your driver's license?

It is nearly as bizarre as Rep Patne's suggestion (HM 11) that you need to submit to a retinal scan or give a fingerprint in order to vote.

Watch this last week closely, it will be like a shell game trying to keep track of what is going on in Santa Fe. Nothing up their sleeves?

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Another low turnout election

Silver City held its municipal election Tuesday March 3, reelecting two incumbents. District 3 Councillor Jose Rey received 48 votes, or 2.5% of registered voters in the district.

In the contested district 1 race, a little more than 10% of registered voters came to the polls, with Cynthia Bettison defeating Ronald Perez, 137-54. This was the second election that the two have squared off.

The voter participation rate for the election was 6.4%, according to the Gila regional Community News at

Two years ago, neither Bettison nor Rey had any competition, and a mere 46 voters showed up to show their support.

We once again have to express wonder at how we can make democracy matter. Clearly, we need to find ways to encourage more candidate and voter participation.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Joe Monahan on Election Issues

If you don't regularly read Joe Monahan's blog, I highly recommend it. Joe has been reporting on New Mexico politics for decades, and has a well developed point of view. Recently, Joe has covered some electoral issues of importance to Voting Matters readers.

Yesterday, over at, Joe commented on the unworkability and lack of importance of the bill to move the major party primaries to March, echoing some of what was posted at Voting Matters February 16.

And last week, Monday, February 23, Joe published my proposed solution to the very low turnout school board elections, reprinted below:


Rick Lass writes of reader Jim McClure's suggestion that we do away with low voter turnout school board elections and have the mayor appoint the board members:

I just don't think it is workable. Very few school board district boundaries would coincide with municipality boundaries, for one. Plus, I still like the idea of electing governing bodies. One idea would be to include school board members on general election ballots--when people are already going to the polls. Of course, naysayers will worry about "too long" ballots. There is a bill introduced this year to move them to the fall of odd-number years, but I don't see how that would help. My suggestion would be that school elections be conducted by mail. Naysayers will be concerned about fraud and ID, etc. But really, it is no different than the absentee ballot system allowed for all other elections, and works very well.

Good idea, Rick. Moving the school board elections to November and/or a mail-in ballot would seem the logical way to raise interest.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Voter Suppression

This interesting article by Saen McElwee appeared this morning on It very clearly and thoroughly addresses why we need better election laws by examining data from surveys of nonvoters. The first link is what appeared on Salon, the second is the original article published last October. Finally, a link to the author's homepage.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

No Progress on Election Issues at the Roundhouse

It seems pretty safe to say that this year's legislative session will not bring about any of the needed reforms to our election system that could help bring more voters to the polls and make New Mexico more of a democracy.

SJR 1, the resolution to create independent redistricting commissions, was tabled almost immediately in Linda Lopez's Rules Committee, with little hope of its being revived. There have been no bills introduced to give the state's independent voters a say in the major party primaries, nor to make it easier for minor party or independent candidates to stand for election.

Creating Public Campaign Financing for legislative candidates has not even had a hearing on the Senate side, and has barely made it through one House committee so far. Merely fixing the existing rules in light of the US Supremes faulty decision equating money and speech has been too much for our legislators to grasp.

In fact, the newly constituted House Government, Elections, and Indian Affairs Committee does not have a single significant election related bill on its agenda through Friday, March 6 and the session closes only two weeks later, on March 21.

Folks, it is throw the bums out time. I know it is a long ways until November 2016, but we all need to be looking now at recruiting candidates who will get in there and fight for fair elections and democracy.