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Being a voter in New Mexico during the presidential primary election is a little bit like being a Cleveland Browns fan during the Super Bowl. It’s interesting to watch, but it would be a lot more fun if we could participate.
By the time we vote in June, the process will have been four months old, and voters in 46 other states will have already weighed in. The election will probably be over and we’ll just be a rubber stamp for the candidate who voters in other states have decided should be the nominee.
There is a possibility this year that a fractured Democratic race will mean the final decision will not have been made by the time we get to vote, but the field will certainly have been narrowed considerably. Candidates who we would have liked to have the chance to vote for will no longer be in the race
During this year’s legislative session, Rep. Javier Martinez introduced a bill that would have moved us from last to first on the primary election calendar.
“Why can’t we be the bellwether instead of Iowa?” Martinez asked, according to the Albuquerque Journal. He said New Mexico’s status as a state where minorities make up more than 50 percent of the population could give minority candidates a boost early in the process.
The bill was not germane in a 30-day budget session, and never got a hearing. But, the fact that we could have theoretically moved ourselves to the front of the line demonstrates a serious flaw in the process. Every state in the nation can make an argument as to why it should be first, and pass a law declaring that it be so.
It is state law in New Hampshire that their primary election be first every year (Iowa doesn’t count, because it’s a caucus). But it has long been apparent that the demographics of Iowa and New Hampshire are not at all reflective of the nation, and especially of that part of the nation who identify themselves as Democrats.
We’ve been told over the years that Iowa and New Hampshire deserve to be first because their voters care more about elections and are more interested and informed than those in other states. Which is, of course, nonsense.
After the debacle this year in Iowa where the Democratic Party was unable to count the votes and declare a winner, it has become more obvious than ever that changes need to be made and the states can no longer be in control.
The election for president of the United States is a national race. I don’t care if Iowa wants to use some archaic system from the days of its agrarian past to choose local officials, but I do care when they screw up the election for president.
Both political parties need to take over the process of deciding how they choose their nominee to be president. If it were up to me, everyone would vote on the same day and whoever got the most votes nationwide would win. No superdelegates or breakdowns by congressional district.
But it’s not up to me, and that’s probably not going to happen.
And so, New Mexico should consider moving up its election, if not to first, then at least closer to the start.
That would mean either moving up the local primary elections as well, or adding the expense of an additional election.
But if we leave the primary in June, we are cutting ourselves out of the process of choosing who the next leader of our nation will be.
Walter Rubel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org