Editorial: Choose, vote, hold to account

Posted 5/14/18

Early voting began Tuesday (May 8) for Taos County and statewide primary races. A lot is at stake.

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Editorial: Choose, vote, hold to account

Posted

Early voting began Tuesday (May 8) for Taos County and statewide primary races.

A lot is at stake.

Democrats statewide will make their pick for governor to run in the November general election against Republican Steve Pearce.

Taos County voters have a full slate of candidates to choose from for sheriff, county commissioners, both magistrate judge positions and a county assessor. A lot of talented, experienced people are running for these positions, so in some cases it will be tough to choose.

Unfortunately, a lot of New Mexicans will be excluded from the right to select a candidate in the primary election because they choose not to register as a Democrat, Republican or Libertarian. That’s wrong, undemocratic and needs to change. Citizens should not be left out of the right to vote for candidates simply because they have chosen not to be part of a recognized party.

Nearly a fourth of registered voters in the state declined to state their party as of February 2018. In Taos County, 18 percent of more than 24,000 registered voters are unaffiliated with any major party. That’s a lot of hard-working, taxpaying voters in Taos County, who won’t have a say in important races on primary day June 5 simply because they choose to register as independents.

Ultimately, since so many races will be uncontested in November, those voters won’t have a choice during the general election either.

An election experiment in Colorado is worth watching. Voters in our neighboring state narrowly approved a proposition that will allow unaffiliated voters to take part in the state’s June 26 primary without declaring a party. These independent voters can only participate in one party primary, but they get to stay unaffiliated.

We think the result will be more sensible general election candidates, with the party base — often the most rabid conservatives or liberals — having less say in choosing candidates. What a relief that would be to our over-politicized system of governing.

We know it is easy to get disillusioned by politics. But now, more than ever, it is important for voters to stay engaged and involved.

Democracies only survive when citizens participate. And many people, including many from Taos County, have fought and died over the decades to preserve that right, so let’s not squander it.

Whether you like politics or not, the people voted into office will have a lot to say about your life. They’ll be making decisions about how to keep the community safe, how to spend taxpayer dollars, how much your property is worth and how to treat people who come before them in a courtroom.

So if you are a registered Democrat, Republican or Libertarian, don’t waste your ballot.

To help you decide among Taos County candidates, The Taos News will be rolling out stories and a special election section over the next couple of weeks. In addition, the newspaper and partners will host three public candidate forums. Doors will open at 5 p.m. at each event, and the forums will begin at 5:30 p.m.

On Thursday (May 17), candidates for Taos County sheriff and magistrate judges will be on stage answering questions at the University of New Mexico-Taos Bataan Hall on Civic Plaza Drive.

On Monday (May 21), a forum for candidates for three Taos County commission seats will be held at the Kit Carson Electric Cooperative boardroom.

Finally, on Thursday (May 24), Taos County sheriff candidates and the three people running for the District 5 commission seat will be at a forum in the Picuris Pueblo gymnasium.

We urge you to come to the forums and read up on the candidates’ platforms.

Then get out and vote.

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