I’ve completed my first week as a clerk in an early voting polling place at the Mesilla Town Hall.
Everything has run smoothly, except for a couple of hiccups I created when registering people to vote. My fat fingers on a tiny keyboard didn’t help and some misunderstanding on birth dates and name spelling by both me and my registering voters were to blame. We got it sorted out, and everyone got to vote.
Nothing has happened that would suggest any vote tampering. It simply isn’t possible at the level I’m working at with the abundant checks and balances that are in place.
Nevertheless, we’ve had at least 10 Republican challengers (more like observers) show up to watch what we’re doing to make sure everything is above board. They’ve asked a lot of questions, which we’ve been able to answer. Unfortunately, the only person who was turned down to vote was a Republican. It seems his wife accidentally sent in his absentee ballot, which had already been counted. The County Clerk’s office is trying to work through the issue and hopefully, he will be able to case his own vote. We’ve only had one Democrat show up to observe. I’m glad all are there to see the process in action.
Our early voting polling location crew of eight people includes five Democrats, three independents and no Republicans. I am sorry there are no Republicans. From what I’ve been told, there were not enough GOP members who volunteered for the election jobs to make sure there was representation by both parties at all polling locations.
Tedium is the biggest issue I’ve faced so far. There is a lot of waiting around for people to come to the polling place. Most of them simply vote and don’t see me for same day voter registration. A few, however, are new to the area and need to have their voter registration changed to reflect their new address. A couple were new to the state, but had all the proper credentials to vote — at minimum a confirmed local address and a photo ID.
In between those times when I help people register to vote, I’m reading books, chatting with my fellow poll workers or taking strolls around the building. But mostly, it’s really a lot of deadly time killing.
We usually have a burst of voting activity right when polls open, then a steady stream of voters until mid afternoon followed by the time-dragging last three hours before polls close at 7 p.m.
So far, my most interesting experience involved the change in registration for an elderly man who had moved from Rio Arriba to Dona Ana County. He was assisted by his daughter and granddaughter, who apparently live in the Las Cruces area.
As I went through the relatively simple process of changing his address so he could vote in Dona Ana County, he was asked what his party affiliation was. He had previously been registered as a Democrat — not unsurprising for someone from Rio Arriba County where the Democratic party has had a stronghold even since before the legendary party boss Emilio Naranjo ruled the roost there. But he said he wanted to be a Republican.
His daughter and granddaughter thought he had made a mistake.
“Don’t you mean Democrat?” the daughter asked.
“No, Republican,” he answered.
“Really, are you sure?” asked the granddaughter, her eyes rolling in protest.
“Yes, Republican,” he said.
The daughter and granddaughter accompanied him to get his ballot, then helped him vote, which I’m certain resulted in more eye rolling and some votes for the relatively few GOP candidates on the Dona Ana County ballot.