The state Democratic Party says that Secretary of State Dianna Duran unilaterally decided to take straight-ticket voting off the ballot and did not undergo any studies on the effects of ending straight-ticket voting.
“New Mexico law provides for a straight ticket option with the Party emblem next to it that New Mexico voters can use to simplify the act of casting their ballot,” DPNM Chairman Javier M. Gonzales said in a statement. “The Secretary, for whatever reason, has chosen to ignore the law and the statutes, and it is that decision that is landing her in court.”
The law says that the emblem for political parties must be placed on the ballot. Duran has placed the party emblems next to the names of the presidential candidates. In years past, the emblems have been next to the straight-ticket voting option.
Because of this, the lawsuit alleges, some voters will be confused and only place the vote next to the Presidential candidate and believe they are voting a straight-ticket.
The portion of law in question is Section 1-7-6, specifically these portions:
Section 1-7-6 – Party name and emblem.
1-7-6. Party name and emblem.
A. The chairman of the state central committee of a qualified political party shall file with the secretary of state a certificate setting forth the name selected for the political party and showing a representation of the emblem by which the party is to be represented.
B. The certified party name and emblem shall thereafter be used to designate the ticket of that political party on all ballots.
The lawsuit notes, “the statute is mandatory, not permissive, as it uses the therm ‘shall’ not ‘may’” and that “The statue then requires that emblem shall designate the ticket and nothing else.” Emphasis in the original.
The move comes after ballots had already been printed and after some voters had already cast their ballots in the election; early voting in county clerks’ offices began earlier this week.
According to the Associated Press, the lawsuit does not seek to invalidate any votes that have already been cast.
The change has been known about since June.