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Court Rejects Johnson-Blocking Straight-Ticket Ballot Change in New Mexico

Last-minute Democrat-assisting reinstatement of “one-punch” balloting is struck down by the New Mexico Supreme Court

In a 5-0 decision that removes a late-breaking obstacle from Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson's insurgent Senate bid, the New Mexico Supreme Court today struck down a unilateral move two weeks ago by Democratic Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver to reinstate the Land of Enchantment's "straight ticket" ballot option, whereby voters can select a political party's entire slate of candidates by filling out just one oval.

The New Mexico state legislature—with the signature of then-Gov. Gary Johnson—had in the process of changing voting mechanisms in 2001 repealed the part of the election code specifying that ballots had to "permit each voter…to vote a straight party ticket in one operation." It took the 2010 election of a Republican Secretary of State, Dianna Duran, to finally remove the one-punch option from the state's ballots, after which Democratic lawmakers have periodically tried and failed to legislate the option back.

Toulouse Oliver, who had been talking up the virtues of straight-ticket balloting on grounds of making voting easier months before Johnson suddenly entered what had previously been a sleepy Senate re-election coronation for incumbent Democrat Martin Heinrich, nevertheless provoked widespread claims of partisan skullduggery with her Aug. 29 decision, which came without so much as a single public hearing.

"Until the legislature makes a decision one way or the other, the Secretary of State cannot," Chief Justice Judith Nakamura said when handing down the decision. "This power is theirs alone, and the Legislature has indicated its intent to thoroughly regulate how ballots appear."

The successful court challenge was filed by the state Libertarian and Republican parties, as well as Democratic write-in candidate Heather Nordquist, and the independent-supporting Unite New Mexico.

"This is a longer-standing, much more complete decision than I thought we would probably get today," New Mexico Libertarian Attorney General Candidate Blair Dunn, who filed the initial complaint, told NM Political Report.

Gary Johnson, meanwhile, was ecstatic.

The state Supreme Court decision comes just a week after the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals reinstated Michigan's 2015 legislative ban on the straight-ballot option, and seems to cement the notion that courts aren't fond of either bureaucrats or judges usurping the will of state legislators when it comes to this type of voting mechanism. Combined with the recent trend of states dropping the device, one-punch will now only appear in eight states this November: Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas (which is ending the practice in 2020), and Utah.

Today's victory for independents and third-party candidates comes as a welcome tonic, but the default electoral reality remains rules and regulations written by self-interested members of the two largest political parties, at the expense of any would-be competitors. Just yesterday, for example, the Arizona secretary of state ruled that the Libertarian Party will not feature any candidates on the November ballot for the first time in 20 years, due directly to a 2015 law that Republicans passed deliberately to blunt the growing influence of the nation's largest third party.

As Libertarian Party National Chair (and Phoenix mayoral candidate) Nicholas Sarwark tweeted after the New Mexico news:

Photo Credit: KVIA

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  • Rockabilly||

    Aw, too bad comrades.

    Naw, not really ! ahahhahaaa

  • MotörSteve||

    But now how will single mothers juggle elderly Veterans while their children vote?! ... Or was it elderly children juggling single veterans while mothers vote? I can't remember who she said straight-ticket voting helped.

  • Red Tony||

    Hey, BUCS, your twitter got quoted in the article! How's it feel?

  • Nicholas Sarwark||

    It feels like you should donate to my Mayoral campaign.

    Thanks in advance.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    I thought you moved to Colorado. Yet you are still running for the mayor of Phoenix?

  • Griffin3||

    Accept PayPal donations, and I will, just for being a cheeky bastard.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    BUCS is Gary Johnson? So much makes sense now.

  • Red Tony||

    Yeah, I agree. This is totally an example of toxic masculinity taking advantage of women. I mean, think about it, a court rejecting something that blocks johnsons? Definitely an example of the right-wing's demand to eradicate birth control.

  • Conchfritters||

    That's what Welch does. He inspires, pleases, and helps with the information. I bet $1 he even helps scoop the cat's litter box.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Wow, judges rejecting Lefty election tricks.

    It would be funny of democrats lost the senate seat to Gary Johnson because of all the publicity relating to this last minute ballot trick.

  • perlchpr||

    I'll just be happy to finally have a representative who kinda actually is for a change.

    Though, honestly, if it was legal, I'd rather have him back as Governor.

  • Desert Girl||

    Meh, I guess anyone would be better that Michelle Grisham..

  • Bender B. Rodriguez||

    Aw, man. I wish Johnson-blocking was declared illegal back when I was in college.

  • Sevo||

    Why should people not be allowed to vote as they please?
    Yeah, 'vote the D ticket' is obnoxious but if obnoxious were sufficient to make it illegal, every asshole who voted for the hag should be disenfranchised.
    Seriously, can anyone offer a libertarian argument here?

  • Eddy||

    I think the argument is "why should it be easier to vote straight party than to vote in a more considered way"?

    However, I think a straight-party option should be allowed - by the legislature, not by courts or bureaucrats - for the benefit of partisans who want to show support of their TEAM.

    BUT subject to this proviso: that there should be an option of casting a straight-ticket NOTA vote, rejecting everyone by filling out one bubble.

  • Sevo||

    "BUT subject to this proviso: that there should be an option of casting a straight-ticket NOTA vote, rejecting everyone by filling out one bubble."

    Maybe.
    I live in SF. The chance of me voting for a candidate is slim (Starchild, are you running this cycle?)
    But I do vote (ineffectively) on the various ballot issues, so even as a "l" voter, I'm not seeing any sort of real equivalence, and if it were, it's still the gov't granting me the same as the tribes. Gov't grants not my style.
    Not finding that a libertarian argument.

  • JFree||

    Why should people not be allowed to vote as they please?

    People ARE allowed to vote as they please. They just have to actually VOTE in each election they choose to vote in because each election is its own thing.

    A meta-vote (eg straight-party) involves a separate set of rules as to how the meta decision gets processed into actual votes (eg in New Mexico, there is at least one election where two D's are running in the same race - so which one would get the vote and how is the voter supposed to know that? - and all that processing is an electronic calculation in a black box which also means it can be hacked or changed AFTER the election) - all dependent on behind-the-scenes manipulation as to what meta-vote options are even allowed to be presented to the voter (what about someone who only wants to vote for women - or only left-handers - or only multi-generation residents of the state?).

    Any meta-vote is simply the existing power status quo deciding how they will record the votes of the deceived and/or the lazy.

  • Conchfritters||

    Johnson KNEW what he was doing as governor years ago striking down party line voting when he was a Republican, more than a decade before he would run as a third party for the Senate, but this is still two dimensional chess, complete amateur night. To piss in the tall grass he needs to think 6 steps ahead like Trump.

  • Eddy||

    1) aim at tall grass
    2) unzip
    3) whip it out
    4) piss
    5) put Trump. Jr. back in pants
    6) Tweet about it

  • Eddy||

    I guess 5.5 should be "wash hands." But hey, he's the President.

  • Sevo||

    "But hey, he's the President."

    Ken in particular (and, surprisingly, some SF money-handlers), continue to claim he's involved in some '5-D' chess here using tariffs as negotiating tools.
    At a recent lunch, some of those managers pointed to the general market and economic response as evidence. None claimed otherwise. They have the authority of those who have skin in the game on the winning side, which is what it takes to claim a valid point when you're addressing the effects on the market.
    No one disagreed with the point that tariffs are always bad in any long-term market response, only that the short-term use may be the best we can get, now.
    I was left as the 'theoretician'; the others as the 'operators'. My net value has done well also, so my disagreement didn't mean I bet against them.
    Repeat: These are people who live in the Bay Area and work in SF. *They* are telling *me* Trump is doing better than the credit I grant him.

  • perlchpr||

    "piss in the tall grass"?

    I can't say I'd heard that one before...

  • Griffin3||

    I read "tall glass" first time through ...

  • CE||

    Shouldn't the party of liberty be for allowing people easier options to vote? If you want to win votes, appeal to voters. Maybe they'll punch the LP straight ticket.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    It took the 2010 election of a Republican Secretary of State, Dianna Duran, to finally remove the one-punch option from the state's ballots...

    Sounds like D. Duran was hungry like a wolf... FOR VOTER DISENFRANCHISEMENT.

  • Brandybuck||

    It's happening!

  • Sonny Bono's Ghost||

    What a shit headline! How about instead of trying to get all fancy, you just go with;

    Court Rejects Straight-Ticket Ballot Change Blocking Johnson in New Mexico

    Its literally the same fucking words, just in a coherent order.

  • Hank Phillips||

    I vote the straight LP ticket. Every ballot I've seen allows me to instead palter with the looters, but I prefer integrity. Why not publish the ballot you think is so awful?
    In Texas all local elections before 1972 were rabidly partisan. Only after '72 did the party names get effaced and personality cults replace them. Ask yourself why.

  • Hank Phillips||

    AZ favorite son Goldwater invented unsubsidized legal abortion as a straddle position and was as close to LP as it gets while still being Republican. Here's hoping their GOP looter loses to one of the other candidates, preferably the LP candidate.

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