Since Oct. 6, the Santa Fe Community Convention Center has been packed — lines of voters wanting to have their voices heard are waiting patiently, sometimes for hours, to make sure their choices will be counted.
On Saturday, additional voter centers are opening. Widespread early voting will be available, in Santa Fe and across New Mexico. As of Thursday morning, numbers from the Secretary of State’s Office show more than 140,000 people already have voted statewide, with more than 10,000 of those in Santa Fe.
For people who want to vote in person, additional polling places should mean shorter lines and less of a wait to cast a ballot. It’s a more efficient democratic exercise, in other words.
For many who are voting with absentee ballots at home, more voting convenience centers will offer greater opportunity to drop off the completed ballot quickly. Or they can be mailed. Remember, ballots must be received by 7 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 3. Postmarks don’t count. Take them in, if possible.
Across the nation, we are seeing long lines of voters standing for hours to make sure they are being heard. While it’s heartening to see heavy turnout, long lines are a failure, not a success. Voters should be able to vote in a reasonable amount of time and get back to the business of life.
Especially for those who have to take time off work to vote, standing for hours — remember, most leave isn’t paid — is a modern-day version of a poll tax. That’s especially true if polling locations or voting machines are restricted in certain areas; often, affluent white areas have short or no lines, but polling places with working-class people of color feature long lines.
But credit the American people. They are withstanding the lines and voting. What all that means, of course, we can’t know until after the election. It’s unclear whether early voters will be a new group — perhaps folks who sat out previous elections — or whether they are voters who just don’t want to show up on Election Day. Early Democratic returns can be overtaken by heavy Republican voting Nov. 3; we just don’t know. The key is for everyone who wants a say to show up.
Even with heavy voting, many voters locally still have questions.
Common Cause New Mexico and ACLU New Mexico have teamed up to make sure voters have answers. Call 866-687-8683 or, in Spanish, 888-VE-Y-VOTA to find out more.
One essential tip is this: Follow the directions on the absentee ballot exactly. Here’s what they say: “Complete your ballot front and back. Insert your ballot in the smaller inner envelope. Place the inner envelope in the return envelope. Be sure to sign the envelope and add the last four digits of your Social Security number. No one should sign your ballot or envelope for you.”
The ballot needs to be mailed by Oct. 27 so it arrives in time, or drop by a polling place or the County Clerk’s Office to deliver it in person. Earlier is better.
And on Saturday, widespread early voting is taking place all over New Mexico. Make sure to be counted.
‘New Mexican’ endorsements
President and vice president: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris
U.S. Senate: Ben Ray Luján
U.S. Congress: Teresa Leger Fernandez
Position 1: Shannon Bacon
Position 2: David K. Thomson
Court of Appeals
Position 1: Zack Ives
Position 2: Shammara H. Henderson
Position 3: Jane B. Yohalem
Public Regulation Commission
District 3: Joseph M. Maestas
Court of Appeals: Retain Jacqueline R. Medina
District Court: Retain Francis J. Mathew, Maria E. Sanchez-Gagne, Sylvia F. Lamar, Jason C. Lidyard, T. Glenn Ellington, Mary Marlowe Summer and Matthew Justin Wilson
Vote for Constitutional Amendment 1
Vote for Constitutional Amendment 2
Vote for bond questions A, B and C
Santa Fe County bonds
Vote for general obligation bond questions 1, 2 and 3
State House of Representatives
District 43: Christine Chandler
District 45: Linda Serrato
District 46: Andrea Romero
District 47: Brian Egolf
District 50: Matthew McQueen
District 5: Leo Jaramillo
District 19: Claudia Risner
District 24: Nancy Rodriguez
District 25: Peter Wirth
District 39: Elizabeth “Liz” Stefanics
Full endorsements at santafenewmexican.com.
For a list of early voting sites and hours, go to santafecountynm.gov/clerk/elections_information, then click on the absentee ballot drop-off link.