Voters must register by Oct. 11

An early voting location in Holly Plaza in Northeast Albuquerque. Photo by Angela Shen / NM News Port

 

UNM to have early voting booths at the SUB

To participate in the presidential election, New Mexico voters must be registered by Oct. 11 at 5 p.m. (or before midnight if registering online).

Early and absentee voting will also begin on that day.

Registration may be done at the County Clerk’s office, the Secretary of State’s office, the Motor Vehicle Department, third party registration agents, or online.

To be eligible to vote in New Mexico, residents must be a U.S. citizen and be at least 17 years old (but 18 at the time of the general election).

To  register in-person, people need to provide name, date of birth, an address and social security number.

To register online, one needs to provide an MVD record along with date of birth and social security number.

First time registrants in New Mexico that submit registration form by mail must submit a copy of a current and valid photo identification or a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, or paycheck to show residency.

Residents who are not sure if they are registered may run a registration search online via the NM Secretary of State office.

MORE VOTERS THIS YEAR

Voter registration has increased from the 2012 election. According to the Secretary of State’s office, there were 1,216,654 registered voters across the state of New Mexico in August 2012, and that number has grown to 1,247,911 as of August 2016.

The Bernalillo County Clerk’s office has employed many strategies to both encourage people to register to vote and to bring more awareness to local elections.

Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver said her office has started a voter outreach education program and hired a voting rights coordinator. (Oliver is also the Democratic candidate for NM Secretary of State this fall. Her opponent is Republican Nora Espinoza.)

“The great and terrible thing about elections is that there’s always more that we can be doing and more that can done in the future,” Oliver said.

The voting rights coordinator focuses on segments of the population that are less likely to participate in any election, such as the Native American and Spanish-speaking communities.

The voter outreach program works with other outreach organizations to send letters to voters and facilitate media and billboard advertisements. They also continue their work during midterm elections, when there aren’t presidential candidates on the ballot.

Oliver said there is always an uptick in registration as a presidential election approaches.

“As of last week or so, we added approximately 40,000 new registered voters, and I would anticipate adding another 20,000 before the presidential election,” she said.

College students can get more involved at the polls, she said.

“College-aged students in Bernalillo County don’t necessarily participate in elections at the same level as other age groups,” Oliver said. “There are opportunities to work at the polls. If somebody wants to get involved and see how the process works from the inside and make a little extra money, we would encourage them to contact our office.”

FELONS CAN REGISTER AFTER COMPLETING PROBATION

Daniel Ivey-Soto is Executive Director of the New Mexico county clerks association, an organization helping county clerks carry out their duties including running local elections. (Ivey-Soto is also the incumbent state senator for District 15. He faces Republican Eric Burton in November’s general election.)

Ivey-Soto says conviction for a felony terminates one’s voter registration. But, when that person is no longer in jail or  prison, on parole or on supervised probation, they are allowed to register to vote again.

ONLINE MAKES IT EASY TO REGISTER

Some students said they think the voter registration process is convenient and accessible.  Sapna Dhaliwal, a senior, says the process was not difficult.

“I think registering to vote was convenient for me, because I registered online. The good thing was that they gave me instructions on how to vote,” she said.

Kelly Wang, another senior, also registered online.

“Registering to vote was simple and straightforward. In my experience nothing needed to be done differently,” she said.

Neither Dhaliwal nor Wang were sure of who they would vote for at the local and state levels.

“I feel like the local candidates need to be more engaged with their voters. Their campaigns are just not enough for most people to know who the representatives are,” Dhaliwal said.

“I think there’s never ‘too much’ outreach when it comes to elections, since voter turnout is always low relative to the population,” Wang said.

EARLY VOTING BEGINS OCT. 11

Absentee ballots can be requested from the County Clerk’s office, and early voting locations can be found here. Only the Clerk’s Annex will be open on Oct. 11, while other locations will begin early polling on Oct. 22.

The University of New Mexico (UNM) will have early voting booths in the Student Union Building (SUB) on every day except Sundays from Oct. 22 to Nov. 5. The booths will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The general election will take place on Nov. 8, and polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.