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Early voting is in progress, and many voters are responding by going to the Doña Ana County Government Center at 845 N. Motel Blvd to vote early. That’s a good plan. Voting is the democratic way to make a difference and to influence our communities to ensure that our voices are heard.
The New Mexico Secretary of State’s website (www.nmvote.org) has information about registration, absentee ballots and tracking system, your own sample ballot and much more. At this point in the election process, the only option for registration is “same-day registration,” where a voter can register and vote in the same transaction at the County Clerk’s office or at voter convenience centers until Saturday, Oct. 31. Visit https://www.donaanacounty.org/elections.
If you have applied for and received an absentee ballot and wish to return it by mail, do so as soon as possible, but no later than Oct. 27. It must arrive at the Clerk’s Office by 7 p.m. Nov. 3. Alternatively, you can hand deliver it to the County Clerk’s Office, early voter convenience centers, or any Election Day polling location. You may track your ballot at the Secretary of State’s website. If you plan to vote in person, do so as early as possible.
Ballots can be intimidating and can be researched with the resources referenced below. Each Dona Ana County voter will have an opportunity to vote for a member of the New Mexico House and Senate, as well as the county clerk, treasurer and district attorney. In some cases, a county commission race is included.
There are three bond issues covering senior citizen facilities, library acquisitions and higher education throughout New Mexico. Lastly, there are two amendments to the New Mexico Constitution and many judges are up for election or retention.
Making informed decisions about judges can be especially challenging. These individuals sit in judgement of civil, family, children’s, elderly and criminal court cases.
In New Mexico when a vacancy occurs, a nominating commission presents a list of interested applicants to the governor, who makes a temporary appointment.
Following the initial appointment, the judge may face a qualified challenger in the next election. After serving an elected term, the judge will face voters in non-partisan, retention elections. Each retention candidate must receive at least 57 percent “yes” votes to remain in office.
To understand your ballot, the League of Women Voters Guide in English and Spanish is available online at www.VOTE411.org or https://www.lwvsnm.org/. Hard copies are available at Branigan Library, Las Cruces City Hall, the Doña Ana County Government Center, COAS and the Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum. The Spanish version is part of the free Camino Real newspaper, delivered in Las Cruces to Lowe’s Fiesta Foods, 1410 Missouri Ave.
Citizens have a responsibility in a democracy to become informed voters, and it’s very much worth the effort. Let’s vote in record numbers to protect our democracy.
Kathy Brook and Eileen VanWie are co-presidents of the League of Women Voters of Southern New Mexico