Posted on April 04, 2019 at 9:38 AM
Senior Vice President
Open Primaries Files Landmark Challenge to Taxpayer Funding of Closed Primary Elections
“No taxation without representation”
Santa Fe – November 14, 2018 – Open Primaries Education Fund has filed a lawsuit against New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver challenging the state’s expenditure of funds to supervise and administer its closed primary elections. New Mexico is one of only 9 states with completely closed primary elections, which disenfranchise the state’s 270,000 registered independent voters-22% of New Mexicans and the fastest growing segment of the electorate.
OPEF has retained the New Mexico based law firm of Bardacke Allison, headed by former Attorney General Paul Bardacke, who will be lead counsel in bringing this landmark legal challenge. At issue is the unconstitutional use of taxpayer money to pay for primary elections that benefit private political party activities.
The case has been filed on behalf of four New Mexico citizens and registered voters from across the state. Courtney Chavez and Rick Edwards are unaffiliated voters and residents of Bernalillo County. Patrick Lopez is a registered Republican and resident of Santa Fe County and Gordon Hill is a registered Democrat and resident of Doña Ana County. It has been endorsed by New Mexico Common Cause
OPEF is seeking a writ of mandamus from the New Mexico Supreme Court to compel the Secretary of State to cease expending public funds on the implementation of party primary elections under the existing electoral framework.
If successful, this case will force a dramatic change in current primary elections in New Mexico, requiring the opening of them to all voters in order to receive state funding. Challenges in other states may follow. The case shines a bright light on how both the Democrat and Republican parties manipulate elections to serve their interests at the expense of every American.
The lawsuit notes that: “New Mexico’s closed primary elections are exclusionary and held for the benefit of major political parties, which are purely private entities. Even though the primary election is closed and exclusionary, primary elections are paid for by public funds and New Mexico taxpayers, while the major political parties reap the benefits.”
Jeremy Gruber, Open Primaries Education Fund Senior Vice President and the organization’s lead attorney on the litigation, declared:
“For far too long, the Democrat and Republican parties have been the gatekeepers of our primary elections, deciding who can and can’t vote in them, all the while happily taking millions of dollars in taxpayer funds to run their private elections. No more. 26 million voters across the country are shut out of elections they pay for and our great democracy has suffered deeply as a result. This case is part of a nationwide effort to take back our elections for the people.”
John Opdycke, President of Open Primaries Education Fund, added:
“the New Mexico Constitution says: Neither the state nor any county, school district, or municipality, except as otherwise provided in this constitution, shall directly or indirectly lend or pledge its credit or make any donation to or in aid of any person, association, or public or private corporation. There is a clear case to be made that funding exclusionary elections violates this clause. The political parties have had it both ways; private organizations when it comes to determining the rules for participation, but public when it comes to taxpayer subsidies. Our goal is to change that.”
The full complaint can be found at: http://openprimarieseducationfund.org/litigation/
About Open Primaries Education Fund
Open Primaries Education Fund is a national, nonpartisan nonprofit organization dedicated to primary election reform. OPEF has developed and is pursuing this litigation in conjunction with local partners across the state of New Mexico to address the disenfranchisement of a quarter of the state’s registered voters. More about the organization can be found at http://openprimarieseducationfund.org/
More about the law firm of Bardacke Allison: http://bardackeallison.com/