Some lines stall, others flow at polls

Voters wait on average for 30 minutes at Montgomery Crossing Shopping Center, a polling location near Montgomery and Wyoming Boulevards in Northeast Albuquerque on Tuesday, Nov. 14. "I'm excited for more jobs to come to Albuquerque and, hopefully, better changes in our economy," said Char Shields (far right), a registered Republican, before casting her vote. (Jessi Mace/ NM News Port)

 

Maya Combs (left) and Athena Combs (center), both seniors at the University of New Mexico, brought their friend Dominque Caldwell (right), who is also a high school student earning dual credit at UNM, to the polls in the UNM Student Union Building to show her what the voting experience is like on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014.
Maya Combs (left) and Athena Combs (center), both seniors at the University of New Mexico, brought their friend Dominque Caldwell (right), who is also a high school student earning dual credit at UNM, to the polls in the UNM Student Union Building to show her what the voting experience is like on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014.

Some voters endured long lines at the polls today, as New Mexicans turned out for the mid-term elections to choose a governor, U.S. senator, three congressional representatives, plus other offices and ballot issues.

“I think it’s pretty important (to vote),” UNM sophomore Blithe Hunt said. “I am a political science major so we see all those statistics and when a large quantity of the population doesn’t vote, the people that do care get to make the decisions.”

Frustrating waits at some polling locations — including those at the University of New Mexico — were balanced by other quicker-moving lines in others as New Mexico went to the polls.  Voter turnout numbers remained pending early Tuesday night, though in early voting 262,101 of the state’s 1.2 million registered voters cast ballots.

Despite the early voting opportunities, long lines and long wait times were an issue at certain locations, including the University of New Mexico and some precincts, including those at Eisenhower Middle School in Northeast Albuquerque.

That’s where Ellen Carpenter waited in line for 45 minutes to cast her vote. She said it’s usually a quicker process at Eisenhower.

“I think they don’t have enough people. The staffing is really short. Usually I see about twice as many people at the tables, but this time not,” Carpenter said.

Long lines of voters also filled the third floor of the Student Union Building Tuesday to cast ballots in statewide races including for governor.

The line stretched from the voting booth rooms all the way to the end of staircase leading downstairs to the SUB’s second floor. Some voters waited up to 45 minutes to cast their ballots.

“I just wanted to get out here and vote, everyone told me to go early and I wish I would had listened. I’m really not excited to see this line,” said Emily Ediger, a UNM sophomore.

Although many voters were a upset by the wait, some voters stayed optimistic. Seniors Athena and Maya Combs were waiting in line to vote with friend Dominque Caldwell, a dual credit UNM/high school student.

The three women said they were pretty excited to have their votes count.

“This is my second year voting. I’m 21 now so I guess I’ve been voting for a while. I believe everyone’s vote counts. We brought Dominque along to show her how things will go for her when she is able to vote,”  Athena Combs said.

 

Although election observers warned voters that a longer-than-usual ballot would create delays, adjustments in the traditional voting process have been adopted by Bernalillo County to help voters move through the process more quickly. Changes include giving voters the option to attend any polling station in Bernalillo County.

Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver, a candidate for Secretary of State, said the changes should eventually increase voter turnout.

“We have made improvements on the election process. We expanded early voting, the hours, the locations,  to accommodate the trend that we are seeing with more people casting a ballot before election day,” Oliver said.

At Bellhaven Elementary School in the mid-Northeast Heights, 29-year-old Troy Rivas, a real estate associate broker, was helping his mother vote. He said all went well.

“The voting went great,“ he said, adding that as an independent, he refuses to vote along party lines.

According to the Associated Press,  a Rio Rancho polling location in Sandoval County reported problems in printing some ballots. Voters affected were given provisional ballots.

For self-described conservative voter Char Shields, who cast her vote Tuesday evening at the Montgomery Crossing Shopping Center polling station, in Albuquerque, the election was a chance to improve the economy.

“I would like to see changes in our economy… such as keeping jobs in our country instead of overseas,” said Shields, a nail salon owner.

“I am hopeful for New Mexico after this election,” she said.  “We need young voters to become more involved with voting… I think the more young people that vote the better.”[/text_output][share title=”Share this Post” facebook=”true” twitter=”true” google_plus=”true” linkedin=”true” pinterest=”true”][/vc_column][/vc_row]