White: Voting may change

Russell Anglin

Quay County Clerk Ellen White expressed excitement Monday over new state legislation that allows the county to consolidate voting precincts.

“In November we have to establish our polling places and precincts for the next general election and primary election cycle, so what this enables us to do is to locate a facility that is centrally located and that has a good broadband Internet connection, and by doing that we’ll eliminate all the voting precincts within the City of Tucumcari and everybody will vote in one location. I’m really excited about being able to do that,” White said.

White said she plans on keeping voting centers in Logan and San Jon, while House, Nara Visa and Forest precincts will not have voting centers. Residents of these smaller precincts will be able to submit their ballots by mail or cast their ballots at one of the county voting centers.

“It will save our county and most of the state a bunch of money,” White said. “There’s a time frame that you actually send them a notification that they’re going to be receiving an absentee ballot by mail if they don’t come and vote in person early in the clerk’s office, so everyone who hasn’t voted in the first 10 days of early voting will get a ballot in the mail and have the remaining two weeks to get it back to the clerk. If they chose not to, they could come to a voting center on election day.”

County Commission Chairman Bill Curry asked White how this new voting system would affect voter participation if it was implemented.

“I think it’ll add to it,” White said. “It’s going to take a lot of voter education. I’m going to go to these communities and I’m going to have meetings with the precinct workers in those places and try to determine what’s best for that area.”

White also talked about failed legislation requiring New Mexico voters to obtain ID cards, which Governor Susana Martinez and Secretary of State Dianna Duran strongly supported during their election campaigns in November. White said she and fellow county clerks will work to draft their own voter ID bill for the next legislative session.

“What I’m really in favor of, and a majority of clerks are, is that a voter ID is required when you register to vote, not necessarily when you go to vote, because the majority of fraud takes place when people register to vote because there are no requirements in place as opposed to someone actually walking into a polling place trying to vote and they’re not that person,” White said.

White also mentioned the upcoming redistrictring process for New Mexico based on 2010 Census population numbers. White said Tucumcari and Quay County commission districts may be re-drawn after state redistricting work finishes at the end of May.

“It’s based on population and not on the number of registered voters you have. We lost a considerable amount of population, but the number of registered voters in our county commission districts are still really close, but it’s not based on who’s registered. You need to keep that in mind when we’re thinking about this,” White said.

“This brings about a lot of controversy,” Curry said of redistricting.