SANTA FE, N.M. – The New Mexico Supreme Court has rejected Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver’s attempt to implement straight-ticket (aka straight-party or one-party) voting for the November election. In a unanimous decision Wednesday, the court ruled that Toulouse Oliver did not have the authority under state law to take such action.
The court sided with the plaintiffs’ argument that the authority to implement straight-ticket voting belonged to the legislature — which previously repealed the statute that allowed the ballot option’s use.
“Did the Legislature intend to delegate its discretionary authority over straight-party voting to the secretary of state? It clearly did not,” said Chief Justice Judith Nakamura
The justices also expressed skepticism over the argument that straight-ticket voting was a tool to speed up the voting process, which advocates claimed would encourage higher turnout and participation in down-ballot races.
“It’s not as if a party affiliation at this point is being hidden,” said Justice Charles Daniels, pointing out that voters could easily see a candidate’s party affiliation next to his or her name.
The secretary of state’s sudden announcement that she was going to add straight-ticket voting was immediately met with broad criticism. It was reported that several counties even revolted against the decision, as county commissioners called on local clerks to ignore it.