ACLU of New Mexico Lawsuit Would Even Playing Field for New Political Parties

Affiliate: ACLU of New Mexico
July 11, 2006 12:00 am

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ALBUQUERQUE – The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico, joined by the ACLU Voting Rights Project, today challenged a state law that forces new political parties to work much harder than existing parties to put their candidates on general election ballots.

“No other state in the country has such onerous and lop-sided requirements for new parties to participate in the electoral process,” said Peter Simonson, Executive Director of the ACLU of New Mexico. “The law serves no real purpose except to protect the existing parties from competition and limit the options that New Mexico voters have for electing candidates with diverse political perspectives.”

The law first requires new parties to gather signatures to petition for formal party status, and then requires new party nominees to gather signatures on a second petition to put their names on the ballot. No such requirement exists for Republican and Democrat nominees.

The ACLU’s lawsuit states that the New Mexico law violates rights of political association by forcing new parties to seek signatures from non-party members in order to appear on the ballot. The ACLU brought the lawsuit on behalf of the Libertarian Party of New Mexico and several individual aspirants to political office who say the law will prevent them from running as Libertarians in the November 2006 elections.

“This law effectively gives people who are not members of our party the ability to veto our nominees,” Jay Vandersloot, Chair of the Libertarian Party of New Mexico, said. “Why should Libertarian nominees have to convince Democrats and Republicans to sign petitions allowing them to run for office? Party status alone should suffice for them to get on the ballot. What’s good enough for majority parties should be good enough for all others. This lawsuit aims to protect the voting rights not just of Libertarians, but also of any other new party, including Green and Constitutionalist Party candidates.”

The lawsuit was filed in federal court by both the ACLU of New Mexico and the national ACLU Voting Rights Project. If successful, the case could allow Libertarian nominees to run for office this November.

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