On February 19, the New Mexico legislature passed SB 125/HB 328. They move the petition deadline for newly-qualifying parties from April to late June. They also provide that petitions to qualify a party need not have each signature checked.
The bills also lower the number of signatures in midterm years for another type of petition, those required for each candidate (except a presidential candidate) who is nominated at a convention of a qualified minor party. They drop from 1% of the last vote cast, to 1% of the last gubernatorial vote. That has no effect during presidential election years, but in midterm years represents a drop of approximately 25%. For example, in 2014, statewide nominees of qualified minor parties will need approximately 6,000 signatures instead of 8,000.
New Mexico is the only state that requires petitions for the nominees of political parties, so of course it would have been better if the bill had repealed them; they aren’t needed for any rational purpose. But it is still advantageous to have them reduced. Assuming the Governor signs the bill, it takes effect immediately. This is the first bill improving ballot access that has passed any state legislature this year. Thanks to Rick Lass for this news.