Voters casting ballots for the March 4 municipal election will be able to vote at the polling place of their choice after the City Council unanimously approved a switch to convenience centers.
“I continuously look for ways to improve voter experience,” City Clerk Casandra Fresquez said at last week’s special Council meeting. The new system will also save the county about $9,000 per election, Fresquez said. The cost savings will result from fewer polling places and from a new ballot system that minimizes the need to order lots of ballots, many of which remain unused and end up being destroyed.
Under the old system, those casting ballots on election day had to go to a designated polling place in order to cast their ballots. Those showing up at the wrong polling place were turned away and told they needed to go to a different location to vote.
Under the new system, the city will set up polling places at Robertson High School’s Michael Marr Gymnasium and the West Las Vegas “Gillie Lopez Gymnasium. Any registered city voter will be able to cast a ballot at either location.
San Miguel County has been operating its elections in this manner.
Fresquez said the new system avoids confusion for voters and is convenient. One of the concerns voters often have is they don’t know where their polling place is for municipal elections, she said. Under the new system, eligible voters won’t be turned away from either polling place, she added.
The polling change is outlined in an election resolution adopted by the City Council.
Three positions are up for grabs during the March 4 election. Voters will elect Ward 1 and Ward 4 councilors. The Ward 1 seat is currently held by Tonita Gurule-Giron, and the Ward 4 position is held by David Romero.
Voters will also be asked to choose a municipal judge. Eddie Trujillo has held that position for many years.
All three positions are four-year terms. Filing day is Jan. 7.
Early voting will be conducted in the City Clerk’s Office from Feb. 12 until 5 p.m. on Feb. 28.
Fresquez and Deputy City Clerk Maire Lopez assured the Council that the balloting system that will be used will not allow anyone to vote more than once.
A ballot will be printed out for each individual who shows up to vote, and the voter’s address will be used to determine which races need to be on the ballot.
“The computers at both places talk to each other,” Lopez said. “People won’t be allowed to vote at both places.”
Those who cast ballots early will also be flagged in the system so they can’t cast another ballot, Lopez said.
Councilman Joey Herrera said he likes the new system because voters won’t be turned away from either polling place. He said some voters in the past have ended up getting frustrated and not voting at all. He said he hopes the new system will result in more people casting ballots.
Councilman Vince Howell also expressed support for the new system, saying that voters often have a hard time trying to figure out where they need to vote.
Lopez said part of that confusion stems from the fact that the county and city have had different polling places in the past.