Judge affirms disqualification of candidate in statehouse race


A judge affirmed a candidate's disqualification Monday after the candidate submitted altered petitions.

The Doña Ana County Clerk’s Office disqualified Ronnie Sisneros on March 19. Sisneros filed to run as a Republican for House of Representatives District 37. 

A letter provided to the Bulletin alongside arguments in court details the alterations. 

New Mexico election code mandates nominating petitions state the office sought. Sisneros did that. However, on five of seven forms, Sisneros crossed out “House of.” He replaced it with “State.” The altered language read “State Representative,” instead of “House of Representatives.”

“The candidate’s view was that he was making this more formal,” Sisneros’ attorney, Carter Harrison, said during a hearing.

The election code allows for nominating forms to be invalidated in a few cases. It says the county clerk must invalidate the forms if they are missing the required information, such as the office sought. They can also be voided if information was changed after the voter signed it. 

“With or without showing of fraud or a reasonable opportunity for fraud, a nominating petition page, including all signatures on the petition page, shall be invalid if any of the information required…is not listed on the petition before the petition page is signed by a voter or if any of the required information is subsequently changed in any way,” the relevant statute reads.

The other two nominating forms were submitted online. They contain no alterations. However, they only include 11 of the required 32 signatures needed to qualify.

Ultimately, 3rd Judicial District Judge Manuel Arrieta found no reason to overrule the clerk's office. Arrieta wrote that the crucial question was whether the petition signer had been fully appraised before signing. Nothing presented could determine if voters knew what they were signing in light of Sisneros’ alterations, Arrieta said.

The Bulletin attempted to reach Sisneros, seeking answers about why he made the alterations. He declined to comment.

Sisneros's disqualification hands the race to incumbent Democrat Joanne Ferrary. 


Sisneros appealed the ruling on April 15 to the state Supreme Court. A hearing in that matter has not been set.

candidate's disqualification, Ronnie Sisneros,