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Las Crucens have expressed hesitancy, trepidation and confusion about ranked choice voting and our 10 mayoral candidates.
My thoughts on the subject? Nothing to worry about.
I voted last week at the Doña Ana County Government Center and it took me less than 10 minutes. That includes my making a mistake bad enough the presiding judge said I needed to spoil my ballot. I gave my name, got my ballot, marked some votes, screwed up, spoiled my ballot following the official procedures, got a new ballot, filled it out, fed it into the machine and got my “I Voted” sticker all in seven minutes.
Granted, I went into the polling place knowing what I was going to do. I had familiarized myself with the candidates, the issues and the questions. That did not stop me, however, from making a logistical error.
Here’s how to avoid the mistake I made.
When doing ranked choice voting for the 10 mayoral candidates, and the other city council candidates, you’ll see the number rankings in columns from 1 to 10 going left to right on your ballot. The candidates’ names are below, going from top to bottom, creating a grid.
I recommend making marks using the numerical columns, not the candidates’ rows. Look at First Choice No. 1, and slide your finger down until it’s on the row of your candidate. Then mark the oval. Then look at Second Choice No. 2, and slide your finger down until it’s on the row of that candidate, and so on.
My mistake was putting the name on the candidate and then looking at the numerical column. This meant I was doing things out of order. And that’s how I wound up with two different candidates as my fourth choice. But if you go number by number, as I did the second time, it is clearer and simpler.
I also learned something I didn’t know before. If you are physically unable to walk into the government center, but can get to the government center parking lot in a vehicle, you can still vote.
If you need this “curbside voting” service, you can call the county clerk’s office ahead of time. Drive to the designated spot and two poll workers – one Democrat and one Republican, to ensure nonpartisanship – will come out and give you the paperwork, and wait while you fill out your ballot. Then they’ll take the ballot back.
Also, a reminder you can vote early now through Nov. 2. Early voting began Nov. 8 at the Doña Ana County Government Center. Beginning Oct. 19, early voting will expand to alternate sites and include Saturday voting.
Many of you won’t have to sort out the mayoral candidates, because you don’t live in the city. But you still need to go vote, because there are several other things on this combined ballot. There are school board candidates to choose from, a mill levy for the Las Cruces Public Schools, as well as representatives for the Doña Ana Soil and Water Conservation District.
Another important question on the ballot is a $16 million general obligation bond to benefit Doña Ana Community College. This bond is a continuation, so it will not increase your taxes.
However, it will provide funding for several key projects at both DACC campuses in Las Cruces, the Workforce Development Center, and DACC campuses in Anthony, Chaparral and Sunland Park.
Following are among the projects the bond will support:
The film industry’s growing importance to New Mexico, and increasingly to our area, makes the Creative Media building, and the budding film and creative campus at Arrowhead Park, a wonderful addition to local education opportunities.
DACC’s impact to our region is huge, and this bond keeps that going. Often, for people who live in Anthony, Chaparral and Sunland Park, the drive to Las Cruces can be a huge financial and situational obstacle, making it unrealistic to attend New Mexico State University. That’s the whole theory behind community colleges, and why they work. The DACC branches and their availability in those communities have literally saved lives and advanced careers, particularly for those who haven’t pursued the traditional routes.
This bond will also take care of basic functions, such as safety and infrastructure, needed simply to keep the doors open.
Let’s keep the value of DACC strong to our citizens, and vote for the bond issue.