Chapter One: Point-Counter-Point With The Albuquerque Journal On “Open Primaries”, Election Day Registration And Voter Registration

On Sunday, April 7, 2019 the Albuquerque Journal published a lengthy editorial regarding the 2019 New Mexico Legislative session and what it accomplished.
The editorial was entitled “Governor’s Signature On Raft of 2019 Legislation Changes The Sate Landscape In Many Areas”. You can read the complete editorial here for the paragraphs about to be cited:

Not at all surprising, the Albuquerque Journal editorial offers a very conservative and very Republican observation of the session and for that reason merits a point-counter point to the legislation they editorialized on by a Democrat. Because of the length of the editorial, this article is the first in a series of articles to take issue with many of the editorial comments.

Following is the Journal Editorial paragraphs dealing with open primaries, election day registration and voter registration with counter points offering a different perspective from a Democrat:


“Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s first legislative session is over, and her collaboration with the Democratic-controlled House and Senate means things in New Mexico will start to look very different in the coming year. Some will be great improvements, some absolutely won’t, and some need to play out before being put in either category.”


Thankfully, after 8 years of governing by former Republican Governor “She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named”, New Mexico will indeed to start looking a lot different and much better as the coming years play out under the new leadership of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham.


“The changes Lujan Grisham approved on the election front were … all bad. Lawmakers refused to recommend open primaries, so New Mexico will continue to disenfranchise around one out of five voters who decline to pledge allegiance to a party line. Yet New Mexicans can now register to vote on Election Day, opening the door back up to candidates and advocacy groups rounding up folks and driving them to the polls, then encouraging a vote for the price of a chicken dinner.Residents will also be automatically registered to vote when they sign up for public assistance or a driver’s license, eliminating the concept of having individuals put a little conscious thought into the responsibilities that come with casting a ballot. And many of those votes could come to naught, since Lujan Grisham signed away the state’s Electoral College votes to whomever wins the national popular vote for president.”


The Albuquerque Journal paints with too broad of a brush proclaiming “all the changes on the election front were … all bad.” They are “all bad” to the Albuquerque Journal and the Republican Party.


The Journal boldly proclaims that without open primaries, one out of 5 New Mexico voters are disenfranchised in primaries because they decline to “pledge allegiance to a political party” and they registered Independent. The truth is that joining any political party in New Mexico only requires the simple task of checking a box on a voter registration form and there is no “pledge of allegiance” to the party you choose.

The argument that Independents are being disenfranchised by not being allowed to vote in a political party’s primary is as bogus as it gets. Independents’ are not prohibited to vote in any general election. Allowing Independents and Republicans and Democrats to select any party’s next nominee is a nefarious way to destroy the party primary system that has worked so well over the years. The “party affiliation” system goes to the core of elections, and it does not deprive anyone from voting in a general election.

Another argument made for “open primaries” is that all taxpayers, Democratic, Republican, Independents and the non-aligned, pay for the primaries, including polling places, workers, voting machines, etc., and therefore our primaries should be open. The argument made is that if the parties want closed primaries, let them pay the bill. Holding and running elections is an essential government function and a service provided by Government.

Taxpayers pay for all sorts of government services or projects that they will never use. Interstate freeways, roads in rural areas, the Rail Runner and Albuquerque Rapid ride bus system are good examples of services not used by the overwhelming majority of taxpayers, but they pay for them. Other examples are library’s, the zoo and our museums. In order to be placed on a ballot, a party must have “major party status” and must secure at least 5% of a general election vote. Independents do not like either party so they do not declare party affiliation and by doing so they are voting with their action to remain independent when they do not join, but still have the right to vote for anyone they choose in the general.

The party system, more often than not referred to as the “two party system” is used at every level of government to choose nominees through primaries, unless the elections are nonpartisan, such as municipal elections. Nominating someone to run in a general election by people of liked mind and core values is the most important decisions any party can make. Political parties are not government and do not require membership dues or loyalty oaths nor require you to vote only for the party nominee.

Simply put, any voter that wants to participate in a party’s primary should be a member of that party and not be part of an opposing party wanting to “high jack” a parties nominating process by trying to vote for the weakest candidate possible to run in the general election.


The Journal in a sarcastic and very cynical tone says that same “election day registration will … [be] opening the door back up to candidates and advocacy groups rounding up folks and driving them to the polls, then encouraging a vote for the price of a chicken dinner.” Being able to register to vote, even on election day, should be made available and as easy as possible. A person registering must affirm under penalty of perjury that they age qualified to vote, be a citizen of the state and country when they register and have legal residency in the State.

The Journal’s alarm reflects the Republican mantra that there is “wide spread” voter fraud going on in the state, which was made popular by Republicans former Secretary of State Dianna Duran who resigned in disgrace after being convicted of criminal charges, and Southern New Mexico Congressional Candidate Yvette Harrell who demanded a recount and would not concede an election. Duran and Harrell never were able to prove voter fraud. When a person votes, no one is allowed in the voting booth with you and how you actually vote is strictly confidential, is no one’s business but your own and no one knows how you actually voted. If you vote on a full stomach after having the Journal’s “chicken dinner”, and vote exactly the way you want without coercion or physical force, why not vote on a full stomach!


The Albuquerque Journal takes issue with “automatically registering to vote” people “… when they sign up for public assistance or a driver’s license” arguing “eliminating the concept of having individuals put a little conscious thought into the responsibilities that come with casting a ballot”.

The Albuquerque Journal is so very wrong on so many levels with this editorial comment on “automatic registration”. It is also a reflection of a more sinister motivation when it singles out people who apply for “public assistance”, which is Republican code for “poor minorities who we do not want to be voting”. No matter a person’s wealth, they have the right to vote, so long as they are of legal age, a citizen of the United States and a resident. Further, registering to vote is what the concept “one person, one vote” is all about. On the other hand, corporations are not people, not allowed to vote, at least not yet, but allowed to spend as much as they can to voice their opinion, which is what voting is all about, to influence and election under Citizens United.

The Albuquerque Journal editor’s complain about same day voter registration by implying that election day fraud will occur by “rounding up folks and driving them to the polls, then encouraging a vote for the price of a chicken dinner.” No doubt the Journal is concerned that it is people who apply for “public assistance” who will be rounded up and offered a chick dinner to vote. When a person applies for government assistance, proof of identity and residency is required. Also, New Mexicans must now comply with the federal “real ID” and driver’s license renewal mandates. To obtain or renew a driver’s license requires the production of at least 4 documents such as an original social security card, passport, original birth certificate, and utility bills to prove who you are and your residency. Qualifying for government assistance or obtaining a driver’s license requires considerable conscious thought as well as documentation which results in an ideal time to register a person to vote. This should eliminate that someone will be bribed with a chicken dinner on election day that the Journal fears.


The editorial states “… Lujan Grisham signed away the state’s Electoral College votes to whomever wins the national popular vote for president.”


Governor Michell Lujan Grisham did not “sign away the state’s Electoral College votes” at it was irresponsible to make the accusation without any explanation.

On April 4, 2019, Democratic Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed legislation to officially add New Mexico to a joint compact with more than a dozen other states that would give the state’s Electoral College votes to the presidential candidate with the most popular votes nationwide. The Electoral College consists of 538 electors and a simple majority of 270 electoral college votes is required to elect the President. New Mexico has only 5 electoral college votes, one for each elected member of congress, while the larger, more populous states have far more such as California (55), New York (31), Texas (34), Florida (27).

The Journal editorial failed to point out that the joint compact only goes into effect if enough states sign on to bring the total Electoral College votes up to at least 270, enough to win the Presidency. With New Mexico agreeing to the compact, 14 states and the District of Columbia have enacted into law the “National Popular Vote” representing 189 electoral votes which is well short of 270 needed to win the presidency. The purpose of the compact is to ensure a President who has less popular votes cannot be elected president, as was the case in 2016 when President Trump won the election despite garnering roughly 3 million fewer votes than Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

The most compelling reason for the compact is that it will ensure a President is elected with a majority vote and the will of the people is honored. The biggest downside to the compact is that smaller states such as New Mexico will no longer be “swing states” that could decide a close election in the electoral college and be ignored by candidates running for office.

Notwithstanding, if enough states sign onto the compact, it will not matter what New Mexico has done and the State will always have the option to repeal the legislation, as will the other states.


Stay tune for Chapter two dealing with public education funding and the public-school grading system.



You can review all four “Point-Counter-Point With The Albuquerque Journal” articles by clicking on the below links:

Chapter One: Point-Counter-Point With The Albuquerque Journal On “Open Primaries”, Election Day Registration And Voter Registration

Chapter Two: Point-Counter- Point With The Albuquerque Journal On Public Education Funding And The Public School Grading System

CHAPTER THREE: Point-Counter- Point With The Albuquerque Journal On Gun Control Measures, Anti-Crime Legislation and Redacting and Expunging Criminal Records

CHAPTER 4: Point-Counter-Point With The Albuquerque Journal On Energy Transition, Minimum Wage, Right To Work, Ethics Commission And Hemp

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Pete Dinelli was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is of Italian and Hispanic descent. He is a 1970 graduate of Del Norte High School, a 1974 graduate of Eastern New Mexico University with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and a 1977 graduate of St. Mary's School of Law, San Antonio, Texas. Pete has a 40 year history of community involvement and service as an elected and appointed official and as a practicing attorney in Albuquerque. Pete and his wife Betty Case Dinelli have been married since 1984 and they have two adult sons, Mark, who is an attorney and George, who is an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Pete has been a licensed New Mexico attorney since 1978. Pete has over 27 years of municipal and state government service. Pete’s service to Albuquerque has been extensive. He has been an elected Albuquerque City Councilor, serving as Vice President. He has served as a Worker’s Compensation Judge with Statewide jurisdiction. Pete has been a prosecutor for 15 years and has served as a Bernalillo County Chief Deputy District Attorney, as an Assistant Attorney General and Assistant District Attorney and as a Deputy City Attorney. For eight years, Pete was employed with the City of Albuquerque both as a Deputy City Attorney and Chief Public Safety Officer overseeing the city departments of police, fire, 911 emergency call center and the emergency operations center. While with the City of Albuquerque Legal Department, Pete served as Director of the Safe City Strike Force and Interim Director of the 911 Emergency Operations Center. Pete’s community involvement includes being a past President of the Albuquerque Kiwanis Club, past President of the Our Lady of Fatima School Board, and Board of Directors of the Albuquerque Museum Foundation.