Letter to the Editor: Why you should vote in the New Mexico Midterm Elections


Cielo Rodriguez

The upcoming general election is on Nov. 8, 2022. Voters will make their case on a variety of issues ranging from women’s health issues to inflation.

Dear Editor,
November 8 might be the last legitimate election in the history of the United States.

When I was a student at NMSU 50 years ago (no, I can’t believe it either!), I would have walked away from anyone who made such an extreme statement. In those days, it would have seemed as preposterous, even blasphemous, as someone saying that Clyde Tombaugh’s Pluto (1) would get demoted. Yet here we are: The United States of America has lost many of the underpinnings of a vibrant democracy.

Last year, Freedom House issued a report detailing a “decade-long decline” in U.S. political institutions (2); also last year, an international think tank added the U.S. to its annual list of “backsliding” democracies—for the first time in the organization’s 50 years of compiling global data (3).

Amherst College Professor Javier Corrales provides a chilling analysis of the steps that indicate a democracy is sliding towards autocracy (4). He states that “backsliding, like aging, occurs gradually and piecemeal,” with institutions and freedoms being eliminated or distorted “one piece at a time.” He says budding dictators often champion “crowd-pleasing measures while simultaneously eroding checks and balances and launching attacks on the press, dissidents, and non-governmental organizations. Voters may focus less on backsliding because they welcome these other policies.” Many of his descriptions of democratic decline sound like actual U. S. news headlines these days: weakening of the “institutional architecture that typically sustains democracy”; overhauling the legal system “to crush resistance and concentrate power”; gaining control of those who are “in charge of enacting and enforcing electoral regulations.”

What a different world from the one I took for granted when I was at NMSU.

I recently got a chance to spend some time on campus. The kaleidoscope of the familiar (“A” Mountain, Rhodes Hall, Milton Hall, Branson Library, brand-new Corbett Center, Pan Am Center and Garcia Hall, the perfect weather, La Posta…) and the new-to-me (hugely expanded Corbett and Pan Am, separate bookstore, Zuhl Museum, convention center, lots more eateries and name-brand hotels, Kiwibots…) kept me disoriented. Building and street names I hadn’t thought about since graduating evoked intense memories.

But one thing I couldn’t remember at all—despite persistent efforts ever since—was if I participated in elections, other than for ASNMSU government. I was there and old enough to vote for the 1970 general and the 1972 mid-terms; but did I vote? If so, for whom? I was there when the Pentagon Papers and Watergate were eye-popping international news stories. As a journalism major, how could I not have given highest priority to exercising my citizen rights and responsibilities? The answer, I fear, is that I didn’t think it really mattered; I couldn’t be bothered, not when I was struggling with Math 110 and trying to make deadlines on Round Up stories and partying too hard and too often.

It turns out the bright spot in the outlook for the U.S. is that voter participation is up (5). If we learn about the issues, talk about elections with everyone we know and show up to vote, we can turn this democratic ship around this year! And so far, at least, it’s still easy to vote in New Mexico:

  • Request an absentee ballot, find your polling place and view a sample ballot at NMVote.org (6).
  • Get details about when and where to vote, including about how to register and vote on the same day (until November 5), from the Dona Ana County Elections site (7).
  • Learn about local candidates and issues at Vote411.org (8).Many of us had fallen asleep at the wheel, taken our experiment in democracy for granted. Now, your generation cannot afford to do so. For your own sake and the sake of humanity as a whole, I beg you:

Vote! Vote as though our democracy depended on it! Because it really does.

Mickey Reilly
BA Journalism, 1974


  1. (1)  https://www.loc.gov/everyday-mysteries/astronomy/item/why-is-pluto-no-longer-a-planet/
  2. (2)  https://freedomhouse.org/article/new-report-us-democracy-has-declined-significantly-past-decade-reforms-urgently-needed
  3. (3)  https://www.idea.int/
  4. (4)  https://www.persuasion.community/p/telltale-signs-of-democratic-backsliding
  5. (5)  https://www.npr.org/2021/12/01/1059896434/united-states-backsliding-democracy-donald-trump-january-6-capitol-attack
  6. (6)  https://www.sos.state.nm.us/voting-and-elections/voter-information-portal/
  7. (7)  https://www.donaanacountyelections.com/
  8. (8)  https://www.vote411.org/
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