On December 9, U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth J. Gonzales ruled that New Mexico’s April petition deadline for parties to submit petitions is unconstitutionally early. The case was filed by the Constitution Party in 2012, and is Constitution Party of New Mexico v Duran, 1:12cv-325. Here is the 18-page decision.
The decision notes that before 1995, the petition deadline was in July, and the state didn’t have any evidence or argument to show that the July deadline caused any election-administration problems.
This is a rare case in which a ballot access lawsuit was won, even though the plaintiff succeeded in getting on the ballot in the same year in which it filed the lawsuit. The Constitution Party succeeded in meeting the April 2012 deadline. However, it presented evidence that because the deadline was so early, it was forced to spend $15,000 on paid circulators, and that if the deadline had been later in the year, it could have avoided this expense by relying on volunteers, who typically take much longer to get the job done.
The decision discusses the U.S. District Court decisions earlier this year from Alabama (upholding a March petition deadline) and North Carolina (upholding May) but differentiates them.