The bill that would have given a primary ballot to opt-out state voters (DTS) was introduced at the start of the 2022 regular session. House Speaker Brian Egolf explained that voters already have that right using same-day registration. So, I’m curious why parties will accept votes from same-day registrants, but not from DTS voters? And why don’t they tap into the 23% of unaffiliated voters who pay taxes in New Mexico and help pay for the primaries they can’t vote for? The answer may explain why electoral reform is so difficult.
I stripped myself of my primary election rights when I changed my affiliation to state denial. In general elections, I have often voted for executive candidates of one party and legislative candidates of the other party. I couldn’t do that at the elementary level, so I did the DTS as a kind of protest; my mother recited this adage about cutting off your nose. As politics turned into partisan power, I was happy to maintain my unaffiliated status. Today, if you say what you are, you will be scolded by half the room, whatever part you claim.
The 24% of voters who are DTS would be a great base for a great party, but how do you build a party out of people who refused to join a party? Yet they should be able to vote in the primaries and we should give them a ballot with candidates from each party. A nonpartisan primary ballot for nonpartisan voters. I become giddy at the prospect. Some candidates would surely moderate their platforms to appeal to the new source of voters; conservatives who find Trumpism appalling and liberals who find “defunding the police” a chant too far. Some of these more moderate candidates would make it to the general election.
If you don’t listen to political parties, you will know that America is truly an in-between landscape. But both parties tolerate extreme views at the same time they denigrate their own members who have even a tinge of moderation, independence or bipartisanship. A party has censured members who have taken principled positions and pledged allegiance to an ex-president who is meddling in elections for revenge. Good excuses to drop your party affiliation.
Bernie Sanders is a major Democratic Party leader and he’s not even a Democrat. So what difference does a voter’s affiliation make? Parties fight for power in government, but they should not be able to manipulate elections to gain that power. They do it in many ways now. If more voters become unaffiliated, the primaries will be decided by fewer voters and that would be a serious risk to democracy. Unaffiliated could lead us back to better government.
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