Improving Elections in Doña Ana County
A while back I wrote an editorial about the health of the democratic process in Doña Ana County. I pointed to the success of the process and the professionalism of the people involved in implementing elections as proof that democracy is strong here.
A week or so after, there was a letter to the editor pointing out that many more improvements could be made to make it easier for people to vote. The writer gave examples of all mail elections and the possibility of online voting as ways we can improve voter turnout. Others have said we should have mandatory voting (similar to other countries) or that we should have same-day registration allowing people to register or update their registration on Election Day.
One thing is for certain, our process can be improved. The New Mexico Legislature is looking at a wide variety of election-related reforms that may improve the system. Decisions related to most of the suggestions I hear must be addressed at the state or federal level, and our office has traditionally been involved in helping to craft changes to the system. We helped pass legislation to start voting convenience centers that allow you to vote at any location. We also worked on the legislation to allow 16-year-olds to be election workers. We’re currently engaged in discussions with state legislators to consolidate special elections, move the deadline to register closer to Election Day, and strengthen voter verification rules. While state-level changes offer big ways to change our system, that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to improve how we implement those laws locally.
First, let me say that we have a good process implementing state election law in Doña Ana County. We use and encourage others to use voting centers so that voters can vote at any location. We open up seven early voting locations to allow people to vote early throughout the county for almost 3 weeks before Election Day. We also host voter-registration events to reach out into the community and teach people about registering to vote. However, just like the state laws, I’m sure our process can be improved.
We want your feedback. We have developed a community survey and I’m asking you to take a few minutes to fill it out. We want to know what you think about the polling locations, early voting, wait times, and our overall effectiveness during early voting and on Election Day.
Visit www.dacelections.com to help us make democracy stronger in Doña Ana County. We know that the state laws aren’t perfect, and implementing them is challenging. Please help us improve by sharing your thoughts and concerns.