New Mexico has a culture of corruption. At the core lay an election code and procedures. They act as a key of legitimacy to its perpetuation, with imbalanced applications contrary to the very principles of “one man, one vote”. Historically , the outcome of elections are foregone conclusions, often the result of uncontested elections, weighted primaries and insiders’ selection. Reform, with “ethics legislation” striking at the spending of candidacies are dwarf steps (and perhaps fruitless) absent progressive measures of ballot access and the abandonment of rules of exclusion, special interest and party influences.
Since 1912, (ironically the same year as the ratification of the Amendment for popular election of US senators) New Mexico has gone through three historical phases of selection process: The convention method which balanced the interests of the State through party appointment and representative process. In the 1960’s there developed the “wide open primary system“. This had been favored in the Democratic party forces by Congressman Anderson, while those general supporters of Senator Chavez favored continuing the system of party selection. During this phase, a diverse numbers of persons posted the required bond amounts and declarations of candidacy. About a decade later, there was a general consensus that modified selection process as the wide open primaries system tended to encourage some party switching between the major parties and a array of names of persons without a modicum of reasoned success in election, but for ballot placement. Thus a modified system of selection was adopted and provided for in New Mexico’s election statutes,
It includes the process of gathering names of signatures to amounts that are statutorily calculated as “for major parties 3% of the total vote cast for all the parties candidates for governor in the last primary election. and for independents gathering 3% of the total vote cast for governor cast in the last general election ( enacted when the New Mexico statutes called for election of the Governor every two years) rather than the requirement of major party candidates who need obtain 3% of the total vote cast for all the parties candidates for governor in the last primary election. As general elections have a much larger number of votes cast than primary election, signature requirements are generally 8 to 10 fold over that of major party candidates. Annotated statutes showed no challenges to the validity of numbers-- whereby the federal standard of a quantum of the vote is a discernable minority.
My calculations based on the results of 2006 proved that a Republican candidate--presumably Senate Incumbent Pete V. Domenici -- would be required to file 445 signatures under this formula. A Democratic candidate challenging would be required to file 3250 signatures based upon a higher Democratic party turn-out in 2006 primaries.
An independent candidate however would be required to file 17, 025 to qualify.
As a one of 445 is more than one of 3245 and both are more than one 17,025, by axiom
“one man one vote is not equal“.
Taken together with other statutes, there is a provable disparaging effect-- such as candidates of major parties being required to obtain “20% of pre-primary party convention approval”, several weeks after the Signatures pass through a “legal challenge period”. As a working election scheme for statewide offices, such may be enacted; but
as applied to the United States Senate seat, it cannot be. The elections of the Senate is
specific under Amendment XVII of the Constitution:
The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures.
Not long after the ratification, it was held that the qualifications requisite for voting for a Senator, the right to vote for the office was not derived from State constitutions and statutes, but the Constitution itself. States were given the discretion to set reasonable methods to establish voting qualifications .But the method selected needed to act “neutrally” amongst the candidates and without an abridgement or discrimination. Extended “the right to vote” is a right to seek public office without onerous qualifications.
The Federal standard is a discernable number of the population as to be duly represented and a quantum of the vote may be a discernable minority-- and not differences the result of a scheme of two magnitudes or a breach of the State‘s neutrality in the conduct of elections.
Ballot access for any candidacy is a vital part of the election process. Candidates whose name does not appear upon the ballots cast, and requiring a “write-in are practically foreclosed from obtaining election in a statewide election. ( The instances where write-in are successful are usually municipal elections or small districts where few people cast a vote.) As such, write in campaigns are generally viewed symbolic. Taken in the totality of circumstances, the statutory scheme of New Mexico has several restrictions or “trap-doors for candidates” which have been employed in previous campaigns for the Senate. These are, contrary to the explicit Amendment which provides for ballot position and popular election “in the same manner as the most numerous branch” of the Legislature. While the Amendment does not require “perfect symmetry” in the provision of the election to the members of Congress ( US v. Ala.), the Amendment for does require that the established voting qualification do not transgress the federal Constitution .(US v. La). And New Mexico’s scheme is askew.
Write Governor Bill Richardson and Secretary of State Mary Herrera to address this by their administrative powers. Leadership shouldn’t talk the talk of freedom and elections , but prove the heralding of our elections is a beacon to rest of the world. There leadership can set the standards that “ Elections are to be free and proper rather than foregone and foreclosed.
Write today at the following addresses: