Change evolves into progress

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Valencia County commissioners were recently faced with a choice — make a change the county might not be ready for or hold true to a known, familiar process.
The matter at hand was polling locations for this year’s election cycle. Did the county want to push forward with consolidated convenience centers that would require more use of computers by the poll workers or should the old system of individual precinct-based polling places be used?
The county clerk and the bureau of elections director made many good points about the unknown aspects of being one of the first counties in New Mexico to utilize convenience centers. And, in the face of high voter turnout in a presidential election, their concerns were valid.
Would they have the support from the New Mexico Secretary of State’s office if something went wrong? What was the process of closing out voting machines that could potentially have results from all 41 precincts? What would they do if the cartridges were corrupt?
There didn’t seem to be any answers to those questions, so the commissioners decided it was best to wait until the system was better established.
But one concern the clerk and director had, while a reality, is irrelevant. The poll workers the county traditionally employs are well into retirement age and it seems the majority of them just aren’t comfortable with using computers at polling places.
Well, to the best of our knowledge, the purpose of an election is to allow the voters an opportunity to participate in the democratic process of choosing their leaders.
The comfort or discomfort of poll workers shouldn’t even be considered when you measure what’s at stake.
Our poll workers have given may years of public service to this county and their country, and for that, they are to be applauded and commended. It’s a 12-hour day filled mostly with tedium and waiting, interspersed with brief moments of activity. There’s no glamour to being a poll worker, and there’s little, if any, recognition from the public at large.
But the argument that, “Well, they just don’t want to use the computers,” doesn’t fly. Things change, processes evolve. And they do so for the good of the people, for the good of the community.
We are issuing a challenge to our county poll workers: Lead us by example. Take the steps needed to bring this county into the 21st century. Be the change you want to see.
Yes, change is difficult. But if we aren’t willing to change in order to participate in one of this country’s most powerful freedoms, then we must come to grips with the idea that we will never see true progress in our government, in our community, in our lives.