The 2020 election is under way and the Valencia County clerk reports things are going smoothly so far, with a steady stream of voters at the clerk’s office.
“The first day (Tuesday, Oct. 6), we had a line out the door but after that it’s been a steady stream of people; it’s been smooth so far,” said Valencia County Clerk Peggy Carabajal.
Early voting began at the clerk’s office last Tuesday and additional early voting sites will open on Saturday, Oct. 17.
As of Tuesday, Oct. 13, the clerk’s office mailed out 14,294 absentee ballots. Of those 8,379 went to Democrats, 3,668 to Republicans, 90 to Libertarians and 2,157 to voters who declined to state a party.
More than 700 people went to the clerk’s office those two days to vote in person.
Like during the June primaries, there are COVID-19 safe practices in place, the clerk said. Poll workers are wearing masks, cleaning surfaces and door handles frequently and giving disposable wooden styluses to voters to sign for their ballot.
When early voting begins on Oct. 17, come Monday, Oct. 19, there will be two precinct boards operating out of the commission room, Carabajal said.
“Essentially that means voters can come to the county administration building from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday, to vote,” she said.
The other two early voting sites will be open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday Oct. 17, through Saturday, Oct. 31, Monday through Saturday; at the Belen Community Center, 305 Eagle Lane, Belen, and the Bosque Farms Public Library, 1455 W. Bosque Loop, Bosque Farms.
Voters who have received and completed absentee ballots can return them by mail in the included postage-paid envelopes or bring them in person to the county administration building, 444 Luna Ave., Los Lunas. There will be a ballot drop box in the lobby, as well as drop boxes at the other early voting sites.
On election day, there will be ballot drop boxes for absentee ballots at all 17 Voting Convenience Centers around the county.
With the unusually high number of absentee ballots this year, Bureau of Elections Director Candace Teague said the clerk’s office is urging people to bring in their absentee ballots.
“We’re not sure if the mail will be an issue, and we want to make sure we get everyone’s ballot,” Teague said.
All absentee ballots must be received by the clerk’s office by 7 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 3, to be counted. The last day to request an absentee ballot is Tuesday, Oct. 20.
Voters returning absentee ballots this year will need to sign and provide the last four digits of their Social Security number in a secure location on the outer envelop before returning it, Teague said.
Another change made during the June session was a stop time on counting absentee ballots on Election Day.
All clerk’s offices have to stop counting at 11 p.m. that day. If there are still ballots to be counted, the absentee board continues the next day.
2020 Bond Questions
There are three bond questions on the ballot this year to fund capital improvements at senior centers, libraries and schools around the state.
Bond Issue A is for $33,292,141 statewide for certain senior citizen facilities, including $260,000 for vehicles at the Belen Senior Center and $200,000 for the Del Rio Senior Center.
Bond Issue B is $9.5 million for academic, public school, tribal and public library resource acquisitions.
Bond Issue C is $155,973,967 statewide for certain higher education, special schools and tribal schools, and includes $1.5 million for fire safety upgrades at The University of New Mexico-Valenica campus.
If all three bond issues are approved, the property tax year 2020 mill levy has been set at 1.36 mills, the same as the 2018 and 2019 rates, meaning the bonds are not expected to increase property taxes.
The State Board of Finance estimates in a 10-year period, the three bonds would cost about $10.99 per $100,000 of asset value. Of that, Bond Issue A accounts for $1.83, Bond Issue B accounts for $0.54, and Bond Issue C accounts for $8.62.
The amendment proposes to reduce the number of Public Regulation Commission members from five to three, with no more than two members from the same political party. Members would no longer be elected, but instead appointed for six-year terms by the governor, with the consent of the senate, from a list of nominees submitted to the governor through a newly established Public Regulation Commission Nominating Committee.
The amendment would also amend the Constitution of New Mexico to narrow the scope of the PRC’s constitutionally granted regulatory powers to public utilities, while still allowing the legislature to assign responsibility for the regulation of other public service companies to the commission by law.
This amendment proposes to allow the Legislature to adjust the term of a state, county or district officer to align or stagger the election of officers for a particular state, county or district office throughout the state.
No statewide elective office would be subject to adjustment. The proposed amendment also clarifies that officers elected to fill a vacancy in office shall take office on the first day of January following their election.