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The League of Women Voters of Southern New Mexico (LWVSNM) supports broad access to voting, and absentee ballots are one option to vote safely this year. Due to the pandemic, the 2020 general election process was modified by the New Mexico Legislature to allow county clerks the option to mail applications for absentee ballots to registered voters with recently confirmed addresses.
In Dona Ana County, those applications were mailed beginning Sept. 14. An application for an absentee ballot can be submitted online at www.nmvote.org no later than Oct. 20. Registered voters may also call the County Clerk’s office (575-647-7421) to request a paper application for an absentee ballot.
Absentee ballots have a long history originating in the United States during the Civil War so that soldiers on both sides could vote from the battlefield. At the federal level, voting by absentee ballots expanded during World War II, so that soldiers stationed overseas could vote.
Among the states, absentee ballots provided civilians who would be away from home on Election Day or were seriously ill a way to vote beginning in the late 1800s. New Mexico has offered absentee ballots without requiring an excuse since 1993.
Once you have applied for a ballot, your application and ballot can also be tracked at www.nmvote.org. The U.S. Postal Service has indicated that New Mexico’s deadlines for absentee ballots do not pose a delivery problem. But instead of using the mail, voters may return ballots in person to the Clerk’s office (845 N. Motel Blvd.) or to an alternative voting location (Oct. 17-31).
In-person voting at the Clerk’s Office begins Oct. 6. No matter how you plan to vote, please do it early! No one wants to stand in long lines on Nov. 3, but all citizens deserve to vote safely and to have their voices heard.
There are many reasons to be assured that our votes in New Mexico will be counted as intended. With paper ballots, votes can be recounted and not lost in a machine error. The vote count system is not connected to the Internet, so it cannot be hacked.
Post-election audits in selected precincts have regularly been conducted since 2008 to confirm accuracy. The Secretary of State’s Office has its own information technology team aimed at preventing interference.
In addition, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Election Lab evaluates states for election performance. In the 2018 election, New Mexico ranked ninth in the nation. Factors considered include voter turnout, voter registration rate, data completeness, registration/absentee ballot problems, and required post-election audits.
Voting is one of the most important rights and responsibilities of citizenship in our democracy. Information about candidates, in their own words, are available through the League website www.VOTE411.org and through the printed Voter Guide available the second week of October.
Your vote is your voice. VOTE EARLY!
Kathy Brook and Eileen VanWie are co-presidents of the League of Women Voters of Southern New Mexico.