I just got home from voting in the local election and I cannot believe how elections are run in the state of New Mexico. This is only my third election here. In the first election four years ago, I cast an early ballot. Two years ago I voted at the Union Street School and I made the assumption that was my voting location and the ward I was assigned to.
So this year I returned to the school to vote and was told I was at the wrong location. After sorting out where I should be, I was directed to the Carnegie Library where I was able to cast my vote. But I was amazed that I was voting for a ward candidate again as I voted for one two years ago. Did my ward change?
More importantly, it was very discouraging to be told I had to travel to another poll location and that two years from now I would probably be voting in yet another location — I would have to call ahead of the election to find out where to vote.
If I was not so determined to vote this year, I would probably have given up and just gone home after being turned away from the first location. I have heard that my experience is not an isolated one and, in fact, I know of someone who had to travel to three locations before she could vote.
I wonder how many people gave up on voting because they did not know where they should vote. I am an old League of Women Voters member who has run voter registration campaigns years ago with the intent to make it easy and convenient for every one to register and vote. While I was waiting in line to vote on March 6, three university students who wanted to vote were told to go to the courthouse to register to vote but could not vote in today’s election.
I am outraged by the lack of concern for making it easy and convenient for people to participate in our democracy. I would hate to think there was some intention behind this disorganized voting process other than to encourage active participation in our election process.
I have always voted in towns where voting for any election was held in a centralized school where parking was convenient, with many tables set up for signing in, and a row of many voting machines to keep the process moving.
The elections were held in the same location year after year so there was no confusion about where to vote and I think this type of process actually encouraged everyone’s participation.
I wonder if this is the right time, before the national election next fall, to examine how the citizens of this town want to conduct their elections. This decision should not be made by town officials alone. Democracy and the democratic process require everyone’s input and participation.