Proposed amendment would overhaul New Mexico’s voting system

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SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – An Albuquerque representative is proposing a constitutional amendment that would drastically change the way New Mexicans vote.

Antonio Maestas, D-Albuquerque, is sponsoring a piece of legislation that would do away with primary election party restriction, and which candidates go on to the November ballot.

Right now, to vote in the primary election in New Mexico, you have to be a registered Democrat or Republican. Independents cannot vote.

Furthermore, those registered Democrats and Republicans cannot cast a primary election vote for candidates who are not a member of their party. For example, a registered Republican who would have preferred to vote for Bernie Sanders in June 2016 wasn’t able to do so.

Rep. Maestas’ constitutional amendment would do away with all of these restrictions and put all candidates — no matter the party or race — on one big primary ticket.

“This way, every single voter would get to vote for their candidate of choice in a particular race, and the top two vote-getters from that race in June would advance onto the November ballot,” he said.

In that last part, Rep. Maestas means the two candidates with the most primary votes in each race would go onto the November ticket — not necessarily one Democrat and one Republican going head to head.

It would then be possible, Maestas explained, to have two Democrats or two Republicans in one race on the general election ballot.

This part of his idea applies only to local and state races — not the presidential election. The general election presidential race would, as it traditionally does, have one candidate from each party decided by the national conventions.

Rep. Maestas’ amendment needs a simple majority in the House and Senate, not the Governor’s signature, for voters to decide on in the 2018 election.

If voters says yes, the new law would go into effect in the 2020 June primary election.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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