Long lines have been a problem this year at a number of early voting sites including the UNM site.
The University of New Mexico and the Northeast Heights locations — especially Integrity Plaza on Wyoming and Market Center on Lomas — have been the busiest. The South Valley and Downtown locations have been the lightest.Understand we want everyone to have an opportunity to vote... ONCE. What we're concerned about is what appears to be the special accommodations being made for one candidate for office over another. To date the County Clerk has made no attempt to expand voting sites around the city to handle this year's heavy turnout. However, when an Obama rally comes to UNM's Johnson Field presumably drawing with it a large crowd of The One Named O's supporters - the clerk expands the size and hours of operation at the last minute of a polling site that's next door to the rally.
From our understanding of the law, Toulouse-Oliver has the discretion to increase the size of a polling place as long as it is not moved. However, state law explicitly determines the times of operation.
NMSA 1-6-5.7(A) Early voting may be done at an alternate location from 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, and 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Saturday through the Saturday immediately prior to the election.By law, Toulouse-Oliver cannot extend the hours - or for that matter change them in any way.
The peaceful transition of power from one elected official to another - from one party to another - requires the public's faith in the accuracy of the tabulation and their ability to cast a vote and have it counted. To that end, even the appearance of partiality poisons the public's faith that the outcome of an election is based on the collective will of the people.
There's no way that an objective person can look at the last minute changes being made by the clerk to one polling site and believe that these changes are not politically motivated. Consistency breeds confidence and Toulouse-Oliver's actions are anything but.
We suspect that there has been pressure brought to bear on Toulouse-Oliver to make these special accommodations. After all, she's a Democrat whose husband works for the Governor who just so happens to have endorsed Obama. However, voters expect a clerk to act in a consistently and without regard to their party affiliation.
In short... The Bernalillo County Clerk should not be making changes to the times, place, or size of polling places based on the appearance schedules of either one of the candidates for President or their campaign schedule. Making O-commodations undermines the integrity of the election process by poisoning the faith that voters have in the process - a faith that has taken nearly 250 years to build.
----- Update -----
Our Eyes tell us that the Republican Party of New Mexico has agreed to the extension of hours and the expansion in the UNM polling site as long as all of the early voting sites have similarly expanded hours.
First and most importantly, the RPNM does not have the authority to allow the county clerk to violate the law. And while they may be patting themselves on the back for cutting a good deal, most voters won't know about the expanded voting hours and therefore their "good deal" will be worth very little to them.
Folks, we have laws for a reason. It's unconscionable that the clerk and the RPNM are colluding to violate the law for what they both see as a benefit - real or not.