A plan to amend the state Constitution to let independents vote in primaries was tabled Monday by the House Judiciary Committee.
One of the sponsors, Rep. Moe Maestas, D-Bernalillo, said the proposal (HJR 12) would get more New Mexicans involved in the political process. He cited record low voter turnout and a growing population of independent voters.
“I’m a firm believer in the idea that, if folks vote in the primaries, they’ll also vote in November,” Maestas told members of the Committee.
According to the New Mexico’s Secretary of State’s office, almost 20 percent of New Mexico voters are independents, meaning they declined to state a political party when they registered to vote.
The proposal would have put the question on the ballot in November as a constitutional amendment. Many of the details of exactly how it would work would be left for the Legsilature to figure out next year.
Maestas listed a number of ways that could be done, but Rep. Jim Dines, R-Bernalillo, said he would rather allow the voters to decide on a detailed proposal. He said he was worried about the ambiguity surrounding how, exactly, the right to vote in primaries would be implemented.
“This simply grants the right that all qualified electors can vote in the primaries,” Maestas said.