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Independent voters are coming together in New Mexico to play a role in the mid-term elections, but it’s not the role we are usually cast in by the media as “swing voters.” Instead, on primary day June 3 we’ll be working to be visible at a time when we are most invisible.
Primary elections are a critical juncture in the democratic process. They are often the most competitive. But in New Mexico, independents are not allowed to participate. It is one of 18 states in the country to do so. Other states have put in place restrictions forcing independents to join a party in order to receive a ballot.
As taxpayers, independents help pay for the primaries, which only benefits those members of the two major political parties and in which voter turnout is usually low. (An issue to consider is that if the two political parties ran and paid for their own elections and conducted them by mail, the turnout might be higher.)
A recent Gallup poll shows 42 percent of Americans identify as independent (19 percent in New Mexico and more than 25 percent in Bernalillo County), making the issue all the more urgent as a large and growing segment of the electorate is marginalized in its voting powers by partisan primary systems.
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