Valencia County commissioners approved 17 Voting Convenience Centers — some new, some old — for the upcoming General Election on Tuesday, Nov. 3.
Valencia County Clerk Peggy Carabajal asked commissioners to amend the polling place resolution from last year, eliminating El Cerro Community Center, and adding Manzano Vista Fire Station and Meadow Lake Community Center, as well as the county administration building as voting locations.
“The fire station and administration buildings worked well as polling locations during the (June) primary,” Carabajal said. “And after conversations with Commissioner (Tom) Mraz, we’re putting a center at the Meadow Lake Community Center in the hopes people will get out (on Election Day) and we can keep that on the roster.”
The commissioners removed the community center as a VCC in June 2019 after Carabajal expressed concerns about lack of security at the building, as well as its unstable internet connection.
All convenience centers operate using a ballot-on-demand system that prints a customized ballot for each voter, regardless of where they live in the county, which requires a steady, consistent internet connection. Convenience centers also have to be compliant with the American with Disabilities Act, secure and well lit, according to the clerk.
When the Meadow Lake center was eliminated last year, as a citizen and then as a commissioner Mraz pushed for it to be brought back. At last week’s meeting, he asked if the clerk’s office had enough poll workers for the November election. Carabajal said her office was working on finalizing them.
Because the El Cerro Community Center wasn’t adequate, the Manzano Vista Fire Station was selected as a VCC during the primary, she said.
“And voters always think the (county) administrative building is a voting site, so we thought we should add it,” Carabajal said. “Both it and Manzano Vista worked well in the primary.”
She emphasized that voters need to make use of the Meadow Lake center because there were such low numbers in the past.
“We’re hoping voters get out and use it in high numbers,” the clerk said. “Commissioner Mraz has said there is a need for one there.”
Commissioner David Hyder expressed concern about the lighting at the Meadow Lake location, noting that during the primary in June, the sun didn’t set until after 8 p.m. where as in November it’s dark by 5 p.m., two hours before the polls close.
Public works director Lina Benavidez said her department was working to install more lighting at the community center, and was hoping to get funding to get the security system back up.
Mraz made a motion to approve the 17 VCCs, with a second from Commissioner Charles Eaton. The motion was approved 4-1, with Hyder voting no.
The 17 Election Day voting convenience centers for the November 2020 general election are Ann Parish Elementary, Belen Community Center, Belen Public Library, Bosque Farms Public Library, Daniel Fernandez Campus-Century High School, Del Rio Senior Center, Don Jose Dolores Cordova Cultural Center, Fred Luna Multi-generational Center, Logsdon Hall, Los Lunas Schools Administration Building, Monzano Vista Fire Station, Meadow Lake Community Center, Peralta Elementary, Pueblo of Isleta Veterans Center, Thomé Dominguez de Mendoza Community Center, University of New Mexico-Valencia Campus and Valencia County Administration Building.
Convenience centers will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 3.
Early voting sites are Belen Community Center, Bosque Farms Public Library and Valencia County Administration Building. Early voting begins Saturday, Oct. 17, and sites will be open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday, until Saturday, Oct. 31.
Early in-person voting will be at the Valencia County Administration Building in the clerk’s office, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, starting Tuesday, Oct. 6, through Friday, Oct. 30, and Saturday, Oct. 31, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
As in the June primary, the county clerk’s office will be sending out applications for absentee ballots to all registered voters in Valencia County starting mid September. Unlike the primary, voters who are not registered with a major party will also receive the applications.
The county is accepting applications now and ballots will begin going out by mail on Tuesday, Oct. 6. The last day to request an absentee ballot is Tuesday, Oct. 20.
Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.