New Mexico Secretary of State Refuses To Defend Closed Primaries; King Steps In
This week New Mexico Secretary of State Dianna Duran responded to a lawsuit filed by Albuquerque attorney J. Edward Hollington on behalf of DTS (declined to state a party preference) voter David Crum by declining to defend the constitutionality of the state law that prohibits DTS (independent) voters from casting a ballot in the state’s primary elections.
At the same time, New Mexico Attorney General Gary King filed a motion to intervene in the lawsuit. The motion states that the Attorney General's office was intervening because of the failure of the Secretary of State to do so.
Hollington and Crum said the responses from the Secretary of State and the Bernalillo County Clerk lead them to believe they are on the right track. “Basically, the state’s Chief Election Officer is not defending the constitutionality of this law, which prohibits independent voters from exercising their right to vote. We believe we have a strong case, and hope to ultimately prevail,” Hollington said. He added he will be filing a motion for summary judgment in favor of Plaintiff David Crum and all other independent voters in District Court this week.
Crum urged independent voters to contact the Office of the Attorney General to express their support for the right to vote in state primary elections.
“This lawsuit will restore New Mexico’s original right to vote and we believe it is in everyone’s best interest to overturn the current statute which prevents independent voters from exercising their constitutional right to vote in every election,” Crum said.
According to recent information from the Secretary of State, there were approximately 341 offices on the ballot for the recent primary election, and 199 of those offices have been decided in this year’s primary election because only one of the major political parties advanced a candidate. These public offices included legislators, judges, sheriffs and county officials who were elected to office without any input by independent voters. “This is why it is so critical to allow independents to vote in primary elections,” Crum explained.
Currently in New Mexico, about 240,741 voters are registered as “Declined to State” or independent.
The lawsuit filed by Hollington on behalf of Crum on June 3, 2014 would allow voters currently registered as DTS the ability to request one of the major party ballots at the polls, affording these voters an opportunity to either vote for the Republican or the Democrat slate of primary election candidates.
Here is the full text of King's response to the lawsuit:
STATE OF NEW MEXICO
SECOND JUDICIAL DISTRICT
Case No. D-202-cv-2014-03730
DAVID G. CRUM,
DIANNA J. DURAN, NEW MEXICO SECRETARY OF STATE and
MAGGIE TOULOUSE OLIVER, BERNALILLO COUNTY CLERK,
THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO’S UNOPPOSED MOTION TO INTERVENE
The State of New Mexico, through the Attorney General, seeks to intervene in this matter for the purpose of defending the constitutionality of NMSA 1978, § 1-12-7(B).
This intervention is necessary due to the Secretary of State’s refusal to do so.
Undersigned counsel has conferred with counsel for Plaintiff and for Defendant Maggie Toulouse Oliver, and neither party objects to this motion.
GARY K. KING
NEW MEXICO ATTORNEY GENERAL
Some quotes and information provided by plaintiff's representatives.