On December 16, the New Mexico Attorney General filed a 10-page brief in the New Mexico Supreme Court, in response to the Constitution Party’s filing. The case is The Constitution Party of New Mexico v Duran, 34431. The issue in the case is whether the Constitution Party should have been disqualified after the November 2012 election for failing to poll one-half of 1% of the presidential vote.
The law says when a party is disqualified, the state must notify the party’s state chair by March 15 of the disqualification, and the state must mail notice to all the party’s registered members by May 30. Actually, in 2013, the Secretary of State did not notify the state chair until July, and did not send the letter to the party members until November.
The state says this error does not affect the validity of the action disqualifying the party, and implies that the notices were late because the Secretary of State wasn’t certain whether the law required her to disqualify the party and it took a while for the Attorney General to advise her that they should be disqualified. Then the state says that in the past, when parties weren’t disqualified, they didn’t receive notices at all. The brief does not mention that the law requiring the notices was not passed until 2011. It was SB 403, signed April 7, 2011.
The state’s brief also asserts that parties have always been disqualified after failing to poll as much as one-half of 1% for president, in a presidential year. It asserts that the Constitution Party (which has never polled as much as one-half of 1% in New Mexico) was similarly removed from the ballot after the 2004 election, and after the 2008 election. This assertion is not true. Evidence that the Constitution Party was not decertified after the 2004 election is a letter from the former Secretary of State, dated in 2006, which says the party is still on the ballot. Evidence that it was not decertified after the 2008 election is that it was listed on the state income tax form printed in late 2009. New Mexico state income tax forms list qualified parties and give taxpayers a chance to send them a $2 voluntary contribution. The Constitution Party got $94 during 2010. UPDATE: here is the 2009 tax return form PIT-D, listing the Constitution Party as a qualified party.
Most deceptively, the state quotes 1-7-2(C), on how a party loses its qualified status, but does not quote the full sentence. The state’s brief leaves out the first half of the sentence, which contains the words “If two successive general elections are held”. Past practice in New Mexico has been to give a party two elections after it completes a party petition.