NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – New Mexico’s primaries are not just for Democrats, Republicans, and Libertarians anymore. At least, that’s what election officials and groups like New Mexico Open Elections hope will happen with a new rule in place. “The greater the diversity of opinion in the primary that occurs, the greater the chances are that candidates and elected officials will listen to a broader range,” said Bob Perls, New Mexico Open Elections.
Officially, the state still has a closed primary, meaning only members of the three major parties can participate. Updated same-day election rules now let non-affiliated voters get in on the action. Any voter registered with a minor party, or no party at all, can show up to the polls and register for one of the three major parties. They would then receive a ballot for that party’s primary and if they want, they can switch right back.
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Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver says it will also make elections more inclusive in communities where the opponents are often from the same party. “When the primary is the only election in those areas, now those areas, now the folks who have previously not been able to participate in that election do have an option,” said Toulouse Oliver, New Mexico Secretary of State.
Those already registered as Democrats, Republicans, or Libertarians would not qualify for the same-day switch. Anyone already registered would have to switch parties 28 days in advance of the primary. Same-day registration takes five to ten minutes and is now available during early voting and on Election Day. Early voting begins statewide May 10.