Thursday, January 03, 2008

Don Wiviott Filing lawsuit to throwout HB 1156

I received this in an email from 3rd Congressional District Candidate Don Wiviott just a few minutes ago.

Dear Greg,

The right to fair and open elections is being threatened in New Mexico, and we must respond.

House Bill 1156, which went into effect last year, drastically changes how candidates qualify to appear on the primary election ballot. It takes the power of choice away from voters and limits ballot access to a select few, and if we do not act quickly, our very ability to put a progressive voice on the ballot this November may be in jeopardy. Replacing a free, open system in which candidates must collect signatures in order to appear on the ballot, HB 1156 restricts access to only those candidates who receive at least 20% of support at a pre-primary convention. Instead of giving primary voters the opportunity to hear and select from the full chorus of voices in the Democratic party, it limits access to the ballot to a well-connected few.

And the consequences for progressives in New Mexico could be disastrous. Under this law, if no Democratic candidate for the 3rd Congressional District reaches the 20% threshold at the convention, the Democrats can have no nominee, and we will be forced to surrender Tom Udall's seat to the Republicans in November.

We cannot allow this to happen. Elections ought to be a contest of ideas, and open and fair to everyone. To that end, I announced today that I am filing a lawsuit in the First Judicial District Court in Santa Fe, challenging HB 1156 and the restrictions it places on voter choice. In addition, I am urging all other Democratic candidates for the 3rd Congressional District to join with me in opposing HB 1156.


I'm not a career politician and I got in this race to fight to end the war in Iraq, to be a champion for the middle class, and to promote fairness in our political system. Minorities -- especially Native Americans -- will find it tougher to get on the ballot throughout New Mexico under this new system. That's unacceptable. New Mexico is about fostering diversity, and HB 1156 does not reflect our values. If there is one thing all the Democratic candidates can agree on, it is that the Democratic primary ought to be open and fair.


Together, we can unite the Democratic field in opposition to HB 1156 and repel this attack on our right to open and fair elections.

Don Wiviott

Don has a petition on his website asking supporters to protest HB 1156. While Don uses the chance that no one would recieve 20% of the delegates and the possibility of no democratic candidate as a reason to do away with HB 1156, the truth is that in the current election it is more likely that from a slate of 5 or 6 candidates only one candidate may get 50-60 percent of the delegates. This would leave the other 4 or 5 candidates scrapping to get 20% and the likely hood would be that no one else would get 20%. This would mean the election would be over in March before a single vote has been cast.

This has always been my point of contention with HB 1156. I truly belive that in a democracy that the voters should decide elections, all the voters. The election should not be decided by 712 or so delegates to a pre primary convention. I belive that when the legislature voted for HB 1156 that they truly belived that this would strengthen the party by requiring candidates to take part in thier party meetings, get to know delegates and contribute to the party. Many times you never see candidates at local party meetings unless they are involved in an election at the time. Otherwise many are not active participants in party politics and day to day running of the party. The legislature probably belived this would stimulate participation in the respective partys.

Unfortunately this bill was probably quickly concieved, and voted upon without any thoughts as to the negative ramifications. Northern New Mexico is now facing those ramifications head on as the worst case scenarios for this bill seem to be overflowing like the New Orleans levys when the city flooded. While I am not announcing support or non-support for Don Wiviott's candidacy I am in support of his efforts to end HB 1156. This bill is bad for democracy and should be thrown out by the courts or repealed in this months upcoming legislative session.

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