On Tuesday, June 22, the office of the Secretary of State refused to accept petitions and filing papers from Green Party Congressional candidate Alan Woodruff. Interrim Director of Elections Don Franciisco Trujillo, the fifth person to hold the position in four years, declined to accept the petitions because the Green Party of New Mexico is no longer a qualified party, according to news reports.
If it is true that the Green Party is no longer a qualified party, then the Secretary of State has been in violation of the Election Code, which clearly states that upon making a determination that a political party is no longer qualified, they must notify the county clerks, who must then immediately notify all members of the party. Presumably, this is so party members can either join a qualified party or circulate petitions to requalify the party.
A few phone calls to county clerks revealed that the office of the Secretary of State has not notified them of the removal of the Green Party. A conversation with Don Francisco Trujillo also revealed that only the Libertarian Party is qualified to run candidates this year, also a clear violation of statute. Both the Independent Party and the Constitution party would remain qualified based on section 1-7-2 of the state election code, which says a party remains qualified for two elections after qualifying as a minor party, which both did during the 2008 election cycle.
These and other shenanigans have been going on ever since the Green Party qualified as the first new major party in New Mexico history back in 1994, when several of its candidates exceeded the 10% threshold to become a major party.
The state legislature has made it more difficult for minor party and independent candidates by moving up the date by which one must declare party membership and the candidate filing date, and attempted to make the major party threshold impossibly high.
And the Secretary of State and Attorney general's offices have colluded to reinterpret clear election law to all but eliminate the participation of minor party and independents from our elections.
As it stands, there will be very few contested elections in New Mexico in 2010, with 36 of 70 state house seats unopposed (yes, that is more than half!). Part of this is due to gerrymandered districts, but a large part of it is also due to our state's policy of shutting out voices of all but the socalled mainstream parties.
Personally, I am outraged by this attack on democracy, and I hope you are too.
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