Monday, August 26, 2013

New Mexico disquaifies two minor parties due to low vote totals

The following will appear in the September print edition of Ballot Access News, edited by Richard Winger. Richard has been a stalwart in following ballot access for candidates and parties for decades. Another version of this appears on his blog along with many other articles of interest(see link at right).


The law on how a party remains on the New Mexico ballot says, “Section 1-7-2(c). A qualified party shall cease to be qualified if two successive general elections are held without at least one of the party’s candidates on the ballot or if the total votes cast for the party’s candidates for governor or president, provided that the party has a candidate seeking election to either of those offices, in a general election do not equal at least one-half of 1% of the total vote cast.”

For the past sixteen years, this law has been interpreted to mean that if a party submits a party petition, it gets to be on the ballot for two elections. Both the Green Party and the Constitution Party submitted a petition for party status in 2012. They both ran candidates for President in 2012, and neither got as much as one-half of 1%.

But now Secretary of State Dianna J. Duran is interpreting the law to mean that a party goes off the ballot after just one election, if it fails to get the one-half of 1%. She finds authority for this action from an Attorney General’s Opinion written in 1992. However, the Opinion was not followed by Secretaries of State and Attorneys General during the period 1996 through 2012, because it seems flawed.
The law is poorly worded, but most neutral readers would probably agree that the phrase “two successive general elections” refers to both halves of the sentence, not just the first half.

In 2005, Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron ruled that both the Green Party and the Constitution Party were still on the ballot, even though both of them had run for President in 2004 and failed to poll one-half of 1%. The Attorney General approved her action. Also, in 2010, Secretary of State Mary Herrera left the Constitution Party on the ballot, even though it had last petitioned in 2008 and had run for President in 2008 and had not polled as much as one-half of 1%. She did not leave the Green Party on the ballot for 2010 because it had not petitioned since 1992 (it had met the vote test in 1994, 1996, 2000, and 2002, but had not met it since).

It is hoped that the Secretary of State will ask for a new Attorney General Opinion.
The Secretary of State still recognizes the Libertarian Party, because it polled over one-half of 1% for President last year (it polled 3.55%). She still recognizes the Independent American Party, which had no presidential candidate on the ballot last year.

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