Area voters head for polls

By Jack King

Early voting was down in this year’s city election, but statewide the practice is growing and plays a peculiar role in elections, a New Mexico State University government professor said.
“If drastic changes occur in a campaign — because a candidate makes an error or a bad speech — increasingly, a third or more of voters have already voted,” said NMSU government Professor Jose Garcia.
“Another example is negative campaigning. It used to be that people would start negative ads five or six days before election day, so the opponent didn’t have a chance to respond. Now up to 40 percent of voters have already voted, so negative ads are starting much earlier.”
Clovis Deputy City Clerk LeighAnn Melancon said only 293 people participated in early voting for today’s election, and 66 have applied for mail-in ballots. Voters have until 7 p.m. Tuesday to get mail-in ballots to the city clerk’s office, she added.
By comparison, 815 early votes and 260 absentee votes were cast in the March 2002 city election. In the March 2000 city election, 609 early votes and 193 absentee votes were cast, according to city documents.
Because of changes approved by the state Legislature in 2003, absentee and early ballots are listed together this year, Melancon said.
Incumbent Mayor David Lansford, challengers Stephen Muscato and Raymond Atchley and District 4 candidate Jack Twite all said they did not tailor their campaigns to appeal to early voters.
“I learned in my earlier races that most people who early vote already know who they’re going to vote for. I’ve spent most of my campaign money on a blitz in the last few days of the campaign,” Muscato said.
But Fred Van Soelen, a District 2 commission candidate, said he took early voting into account.
“I did campaign a little bit earlier, because I knew that more and more people vote early. I know that I did myself,” he said.
Statewide, the effect of early voting on campaigns probably is less than it may seem, Garcia said.
“Because early and absentee boxes are counted last, they can appear to swing elections, but most of those people would probably have voted anyway,” Garcia said.
Voter participation has been falling throughout the last four decades. While it isn’t clear that early voting has improved turnout, an increasing percentage of those who do vote, vote early, Garcia said.
“In the early ’90s, the percentage of early voters was between 10 percent and 20 percent. Today, it represents more than 40 percent of voters in Albuquerque and Las Cruces. Statewide the percentage is almost 40 percent,” he said.
New Mexico has had some form of absentee voting for more than 25 years, but it was only in 1993 that the Legislature passed an early-voting law, he said.
“Twenty or 25 years ago political parties began to encourage people to use absentee voting. Originally, you were supposed to be sick, or prevented from going to the polling place in some very clear way, but it was never rigorously enforced. In precincts where they determined there was strong support for their candidate, both parties would go door to door passing out postcards applying for absentee ballots as a way to improve turnout. It was getting unseemly in some cases,” he said.
The 1993 legislation codified and regularized early voting practices.

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Elections at a glance

Voting places
• District 1: Mesa Elementary School, 4801 N. Norris St, Precincts 17, 35, 37; Zia Elementary, 2400 N. Norris St., Precincts 18, 19, 24.
• District 2: Marshall Junior High School, 100 Commerce Way, Precincts 21, 22, 26, and that portion of Precinct 20 south of 17th Street and north of Ninth Street; Yucca Junior High School, 1500 Sycamore St., Precincts 23, 27 and 32; Lockwood Elementary, 400 Lockwood Drive, Precincts 5, 28, 33.
• District 3: Gattis Junior High School, 1400 Cameo St., Precincts 7, 8, 9, 31 and that portion of Precinct 20 sought of Ninth Street; La Casita Elementary, 400 S. Davis Street, Precincts 6 and 25.
• District 4: Highland Elementary, 100 E. Plains Ave., Precincts 13, 14, 15 and that portion of Precinct 20 north of 17th Street; Sandia Elementary, 2801 Lore Street, Precincts 10, 11 and 12.

On the ballot

• Raymond Eugene Atchley
• David M. Lansford (incumbent)
• Stephen J. Muscato Sr.
District 1 city commission
(Covers the northeastern part of the city from Seventh Street to Wilhite Street)
• Randal S. Crowder (unopposed)

District 2 city commission
(Covers the central part of the city from 21st Street to the southern city limits)
• Fred Van Soelen
• Len A. Vohs
• Gloria Wicker (incumbent)

District 3 city commission
(Covers the western part of the city, bordered on the north by 21st Street, on the south by Brady Avenue and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad)
• Robert O. Sandoval (incumbent, unopposed)

District 4 city commission
(Covers the northwestern part of the city from Prince Street to Martin Luther King Boulevard, with Llano Estacado Boulevard on the north)
• Jack W. Twite
• Lunell Winton (incumbent)

Tax question
Shall the City of Clovis, New Mexico, be authorized to impose a municipal gross receipts tax equal to one-fourth of one percent (1/4 %) of the gross receipts reported or required to be reported in the City of Clovis, for the purpose of furthering and implementing the municipal capital outlay gross receipts tax (Section 7-19D-12, NMSA 1978) and in accordance with the law?
• For
• Against
Charter amendments
Proposal No. 1 — Charter amendment to repeal term limits, Section 3-2.
• For
• Against

Proposal No. 2 — Charter amendment to correct the existing reference in Section 8-1E to the proper number of City Commissioners.
Section 8-1E — A vacancy created by a recall election shall be filled in the same manner as other vacancies on the City Commission are filled. If all commissioners are recalled at the same election, the Municipal Clerk, or if there is no Municipal Clerk, the District Court, shall within three (3) days call an election as provided in this Chapter for the election of eight (8) Commissioners.
• For
• Against