Defending New Mexico’s judicial elections process?

New Mexico’s primaries are in the books. Do you remember voting for the judges?  Do you recognize the names on the ballot and know what they stand for? Were there any contested races? You probably answered “no” to most of those questions. That is not good.

Leave it up to the left-wingers at Common Cause to be perhaps the only people in our State who believe our State’s approach to judicial elections is working. Of course, their justification is that the elections are “clean” insofar as the funding for those campaigns comes from the taxpayers.

The claim with little justification that the system is a “success.” But, anyone who cares about crime would have to be concerned that our judges don’t do a great job of keeping dangerous criminals off the streets.

New Mexico’s judiciary is also considered anti-business. While that MAY reflect the broader political status of the State, it would be nice to have judicial candidates able to run actual campaigns on their positions. This kind of issue-based campaigning is limited in New Mexico. 

Finally, while voters tend to be moderately informed based on a combination of advertising and partisan identification, that is not always available to judicial candidates in New Mexico. So, around election day each year we at the Rio Grande Foundation often received questions regarding the merits of “non-partisan” judicial candidates about whom little is known.

What’s the solution? It would seem that more political advertising and enhancing rather than limiting the ability of judicial candidates to campaign on “tough on crime” or some broad policy reforms would be the best approach, but we  are open to any ideas that would increase openness and result in a better-informed electorate.

Judicial Elections Are a Mess—Here's How to Fix the Problem