FARMINGTON – A week after the Iowa caucus officially kicked off the 2020 presidential primary season, the New Mexico state Legislature is considering a proposal to make the state hold an earlier primary.
The bill would move the Land of Enchantment’s presidential primary, starting with the 2024 election cycle, from the first Tuesday in June to the second Tuesday in January, ahead of Iowa’s caucus date. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Javier Martinez, D-Albuquerque.
Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucus has come under increasing criticism for not being a diverse and accurate representation of the country. Discussions around having another state go first or re-evaluating Iowa’s caucus grew especially intense after Iowa’s Democratic Party primary last week had difficulties counting votes with a new app it was using.
New Mexico, with Hispanics and Latinos making up 49% of the population, would be a more diverse population than the other early primaries, like Iowa, Martinez said in an interview with The Albuquerque Journal. He added it could increase a minority candidate’s chances of winning a party’s nomination.
The proposal is not the first bill in recent years to try to move the state’s primary to an earlier date. Republicans in 2015 supported a bill to move New Mexico’s primary election – not just presidential primaries – to March. The legislation eventually stalled because legislators were worried how the move could effect state elections.
Legislators in New Mexico are not alone in evaluating where its primary falls in relation to the rest of the country.
Colorado’s presidential primary will be held March 3, with ballots of Montezuma County voters expected to hit mailboxes this week. This year’s primary will be the first since Gov. Jared Polis and Secretary of State Jena Griswold moved the date forward. Colorado will now be among 14 states with primaries on Super Tuesday. It will also mark the first time the state has held a primary election in 20 years since voters decided to end the caucus system in 2016.
This year, New Mexico will maintain its primary election on June 2, alongside Montana, New Jersey, South Dakota and the District of Columbia – all tied for the last date in the country to hold a 2020 presidential primary. The last day to register to vote in New Mexico’s primary is May 5, and May 28 is the final day to request an absentee primary ballot.