Clerk talks voter laws


April 10, 2019

Quay County Clerk Ellen White told Quay County commissioners during their regular meeting Monday a new state law that allows same-day voter registration during elections will add “expensive” extra staffing to her office.

Statutes that go into effect during primary elections in 2020 require live internet feeds at all voting precincts to check voters’ credentials. White said the new rules would necessitate more certified staff and equipment.

White said prospective voters would have to provide photo identification and a second proof of residence so staff can verify the registration with the state databases.

“It seems like it opens it up for more things going wrong,” Commissioner Sue Dowell said of the new rules.

White said she aims to have same-day voter registration at all voter precincts in Quay County, including outlying areas such as San Jon and Forrest.

“I will do whatever I can to get to those communities, but it won’t be cheap,” she said.

White said she didn’t have a firm estimate on the county’s additional expenses for same-day registration. She said she would receive more clarification when county clerks meet with the New Mexico Secretary of State on April 15-16.

In other business Monday:

• The commission approved the annual audit from fiscal year 2018 from Eric Spurlin at Carr, Riggs & Ingram firm of Albuquerque.

Spurlin noted the county “shows consistency” in its total assets over a five-year period. He said Quay County’s total liabilities rose because the state requires putting future pension costs on the books; pensions won’t come due in the near future, nor all at once. The audit also reported a drop of program revenues of $1.7 million, mostly from a decrease in state capital grant appropriations in the road fund and county improvements fund. Expenses remained consistent.

Spurlin also suggested ongoing training for county staff and more information-technology consulting that may affect county operations.

• The commission approved a proclamation that April is Quay County Child Abuse Prevention Month.

George Arguello of local Children, Youth and Families Department said its office at 107 W. Aber St. would hold an open house from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Friday.

Arguello said his office, which serves Quay, Harding and DeBaca counties, investigated 148 reports of child abuse or neglect last year, and 50 percent were substantiated.

“It takes all of us to pitch in (against child abuse),” he said. “It’s not just one agency.”

• The commission approved the submission of a $92,200 Rural Primary Health Care Act grant application for Presbyterian Medical Services. C. Renee Hayoz, administrator of the PMS, said most of the money will be used for wages and benefits, plus $5,000 to purchase a retinal-scan camera that can help diagnose diabetes or measure vision degradation from such patients.

• Andrea Shafer, Quay County DWI Coordinator administrator, told the commission her office saw a increase in driving-while-intoxicated cases from five in October through December to 14 in January through March. Shafer later said that number was about the historical average and well under the record of 28 DWI cases in April through June 2016.

• The commission went into a closed session for 35 minutes, most of it with Sheriff Russell Shafer, over threatened or pending litigation. No action was taken when commissioners went back into open session.


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