Re­vi­tal­iz­ing elec­tions is free

The two-party sys­tem is pit­ting us against each other

Albuquerque Journal - - OP-ED - BY JAR­RATT AP­PLE­WHITE

Be­ing a bea­con for the dis­pos­sessed has de­fined our na­tion since its in­cep­tion. Our democ­racy used to up­lift peo­ple around the world. It made all of us proud. That we’ve lost that stature di­min­ishes each of us. We can’t di­rectly ad­dress the dys­func­tion of our na­tional di­a­logue. But we can rein­vig­o­rate the di­a­logue we have with each other in New Mex­ico.

We don’t have to spend a nickel to make our elec­tions the most fair and the most com­pet­i­tive in the coun­try. In fact, some changes — e.g. mailed bal­lots — could save us money. With your help, we can cre­ate an elec­toral en­vi­ron­ment that makes us proud. One that is fair, that em­braces trans­parency and with a strin­gent ethics frame­work. We can cre­ate a sys­tem that re­stricts spe­cial in­ter­est money, in­creases voter turnout and, per­haps most im­por­tantly, will at­tract more can­di­dates.

That’s easy to say, but hard to do be­cause, at present, New Mex­ico has the least com­pet­i­tive state elec­tions in the na­tion. Our politi­cians use our re­dis­trict­ing process to pick their vot­ers and pro­tect in­cum­bents. Only 35 out of 70, half the leg­isla­tive seats in this cy­cle, have an op­po­nent! We’re one of only nine states that have fully closed pri­maries, which are in too many cases the only elec­tions of con­se­quence. They are funded with pub­lic money, yet are only ac­ces­si­ble to those who join one of the two ma­jor par­ties. Our bal­lot ac­cess laws are some of the most un­fair in the na­tion. In the ju­ris­dic­tion

Let­ter pol­icy

The Al­bu­querque Jour­nal wel­comes let­ters ex­press­ing opin­ions on news and com­men­tary that have been pub­lished in the news­pa­per. Let­ters should be no longer than about 350 words. By­lined col­umns of up to about 650 words will also be con­sid­ered for pub­li­ca­tion. All sub­mis­sions ac­cepted for pub­li­ca­tion are sub­ject to edit­ing for length and clar­ity and may ap­pear in print or elec­tronic form, in­clud­ing on the Jour­nal’s In­ter­net web­site and in its search­able ar­chives and data­bases. All sub­mis­sions must in­clude a writer’s first and last name (which will be pub­lished) and home ad­dress and tele­phone num­ber (which only will be used to ver­ify au­thor­ship). Let­ters sent through the post of­fice should be signed. Sub­mit on­line through our web­site us­ing your In­ter­net browser (not email) at http:// www.abqjour­­ters or via the post of­fice: Let­ters to the Jour­nal; P.O. Drawer J; Al­bu­querque, NM 87103. in which I re­side, a Repub­li­can would have needed 35 nom­i­nat­ing pe­ti­tion sig­na­tures to get on the bal­lot as a can­di­date for our House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives this cy­cle. This un­af­fil­i­ated can­di­date needed 311.

Open­ing up our elec­tions in New Mex­ico means re­duc­ing the stran­gle­hold that the ma­jor par­ties now have on them. Non­par­ti­san re­dis­trict­ing, open pri­maries, equal ac­cess to the bal­lot and ranked-choice vot­ing are all re­forms that re­duce the raw po­lit­i­cal power of the Ds & Rs. This trans­for­ma­tion is oc­cur­ring across the na­tion as more and more peo­ple are elect­ing to end their as­so­ci­a­tion with a po­lit­i­cal party. In sev­eral states, vot­ers with­out party af­fil­i­a­tion are the largest seg­ment of the elec­torate. Even in New Mex­ico, where un­aligned vot­ers are dis­en­fran­chised, their ranks are grow­ing at a much faster rate than those of the ma­jor par­ties. Younger vot­ers dis­pro­por­tion­ately choose not to join par­ties.

These are deeply trou­bling times. The char­ac­ter of our civic dis­course is at an all-time low. Nowhere is our lack of tol­er­ance and ci­vil­ity more ap­par­ent than in our po­lit­i­cal di­a­logue. Our two-party sys­tem is to blame for set­ting us against each other, for our in­tense po­lar­iza­tion and for the grid­lock. All of us care deeply about the well-be­ing of our fam­i­lies, about our own health and about so much more. We must re­claim our hu­man­ity and rec­og­nize that we have much more in com­mon than that which sep­a­rates us.

Let’s put peo­ple over party. Jar­ratt Ap­ple­white, a res­i­dent of Lamy, is seek­ing to be­come the first per­son in the his­tory of New Mex­ico who is not a mem­ber of a party to be elected to the N.M. Leg­is­la­ture. In­for­ma­tion about his cam­paign may be found at ap­ple­

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