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Creating More Transparency in New Mexico Campaign Reporting and Financing

Common Cause poster about clean electionsCredit: Common Cause.
Common Cause poster about clean elections
Credit: Common Cause.
December 7, 2012

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Three citizens advocacy groups contend that public financing of political campaigns and campaign disclosure provisions are out of date in New Mexico.

In an effort to address both issues, Common Cause New Mexico, the SouthWest Organizing Project and the Native American Voters Alliance are focusing attention on two bills being proposed by State Senator Peter Wirth for the 2013 legislative session; one focuses on a change to the Voter Action Act.

Viki Harrison, executive director of Common Cause New Mexico, says the amendment would help publicly financed candidates keep up with the money raised by their privately financed opponents. The other bill is focused on public disclosure of political spending.

"The heart of this bill is to make a level playing field, so the average New Mexican knows who is paying for that information to come into their mailbox."

Tomorrow (Saturday), the groups will hold a training session in Albuquerque on the bills for anyone interested. (1 to 3 p.m. at 510 San Pedro Southeast.)

Tomás Garduño, SouthWest Organizing Project co-director, says despite the large numbers of Latinos credited for helping President Obama win re-election, many of them feel the system doesn't work, and as a result, choose not to engage at all.

"While oftentimes people perceive electoral reform and good government issues as more of a middle class white issue, we actually think that it affects all communities to the same degree, because when we don't have a strong, vibrant democracy, we all pay the price."

Laurie Weahkee, director of the Native American Voters Alliance, says improving the election process will enhance Native American participation in the entire political process. She cites some of the obstacles that deter voter participation.

"A lot of tribal communities exist in the rural areas and they don't have good Internet access. It's tougher to get in to town to vote or to their local chapter house. Within the last 10 years we've had times where there weren't enough ballots or the provisional ballots didn't get counted."

Weahkee says she hopes Saturday's training will help remedy the problems.

Renee Blake, Public News Service - NM