Dumbed down ballots

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By Optic Editorial Board

The removal of an option in New Mexico to cast a straight party ticket vote with one mark on your ballot has been called into question by a lawsuit brought by the state’s Democratic Party. As of last week, the lawsuit was put on hold by the state Supreme Court while a federal court considers the issue.

The state’s highest court postponed proceedings in the case in which Democrats are seeking to restore the option for a voter to cast, with a single mark on the ballot, a vote for a political party’s entire slate of candidates. The option has been allowed for years, but this year, New Mexico Secretary of State Dianna Duran decided that it’s not required or authorized by state law, and that the state would be better off without it. Her office has since redesigned some ballots for New Mexicans, and they are being used in early voting. She contends that to put the option back on ballots now would violate equal protection guarantees, and she’s asked the U.S. District Court to address the issue.

We don’t know how either court will rule on the matter, but we know what we think about it, and we’ll express our view on no uncertain terms:

We’re glad Duran took the straight party ticket voting off this year’s general election ballot. It dumbs down the voting process and is unfair to non-mainstream candidates and others who stand apart from party affiliations or have no affiliation. And the contention that it makes voting easier for some, and will therefore increase turnout, is superficial at best and silly at its  worst.

We’re all in favor of making voting easier on people — it’s why we support no-excuse early and absentee voting procedures and we’re opposed to cumbersome voter ID requirements. Almost anything that can be done to make voting easier — as long as it doesn’t increase the risk of voter fraud — is fine. Almost. The straight-ticket option is just going too far.

Understand that no one’s stopping a voter from going with all Democrats or Republicans. Anyone who wants to vote a straight ticket may do so, easily and with little extra effort, by simply looking for the “D” or the “R” beside each candidate’s name in each race. We prefer to consider the candidates individually, but for partisan voters whose loyalty transcends such thinking, we say fine — just put a little effort into it. We’re pretty sure your hand won’t cramp up in the process.

We’re embarrassed for the Democratic Party’s  effort to dumb down the election, and we hope the courts uphold Duran’s decision to remove it from New Mexico ballots.