If you’re planning to vote by mail this fall, you may want to think about how you’ll manage that. Concerns about voter suppression and/or voter fraud and Russian election manipulation are as rampant nationwide as the coronavirus. Will you stand in line socially-distanced to cast your ballot in person or will you send in a ballot mailed to you? The Sandoval County Clerk can send out applications for absentee ballots as soon as the middle of next month, September 14. Those mail-back ballots will be accepted starting October 6; early voting begins October 17.

In recent years, an increasing number of voters have cast ballots well before the actual Election Day, which will be November 3. In the last general election in November 2016, about 25 percent of voters nationwide voted absentee or otherwise by mail, and that is expected to at least double this time due to fears of exposure to COVID-19 at the polls. Some observers believe that up to half of all voters nationwide will cast mail-in ballots.

Corraleños are among the thousands, perhaps millions, of citizens afraid the U.S. Postal Service will not be able to facilitate vote by mail ahead of elections in November. Those concerns are exacerbated by President Donald Trump’s remarks earlier this month, implying he would not approve a large funding hike for USPS to accommodate the expected deluge of mail-in ballots. “They need that money in order to make the post office work, so it can take all of those millions and millions of ballots,” the president warned.

That was perceived as a threat, especially accompanied by recent changes in how USPS handles mail, including elimination of streetside mail collection boxes, overtime for postal employees and sorting equipment, as ordered by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, identified as a mega-donor to Trump’s re-election campaign. Those portents have riled many Corrales Democrats and independents, including Trish and Allan Whitesel who have hoisted “Save Our U.S. Post Office! Save Our Right to Vote!” outside the Corrales Post Office.

She emailed to Corrales Comment August 16 asking, “Could we have ever imagined that our very own president would wage an outright war on the USPS and on Americans’ right to vote in free and fair elections? “President Trump repeatedly voices his concerns about voter fraud by mail and raises the prospect of foreign interference at the ballot box… [even though] President Trump, some of his family members, multitudes of Republicans, overseas military personnel and veterans routinely vote by mail, pay their bills by mail, receive their Veterans Administration benefits and their medications via USPS!”
“We should not have to choose between our health and our right to vote!”

Allan Whitesel echoed those concerns, adding that he feared, “the chaos and uncounted ballots could lead to an illegal authoritarian government take over, the result of which could mean the end of our more than two centuries experiment called democracy.”

The U.S. House of Representatives was scheduled to convene for an emergency session during the week of August 17 to appropriate more funding for USPS. At least 19 members of Congress signed an August 12 letter to Postmaster General DeJoy imploring him to maintain the postal system’s integrity, especially ahead of the November election. “The House is seriously concerned that you are implementing policies that accelerate the crisis at the Postal Service, including directing post offices to no longer treat all election mail as First Class. If implemented now, as the election approaches, this policy will cause further delays to election mail that will disenfranchise voters and put significant financial pressure on election jurisdictions.”

Sandoval County Clerk Eileen Garbagni, responsible for managing elections in Corrales and elsewhere around the county, assures that absentee ballots will be sent to every citizen who requests one; applications for an absentee ballot will be mailed starting September 14. Until early voting begins October 17, the only location to deposit a completed ballot will be at the County Clerk’s Office, 1500 Idalia Road just west of Highway 528. During early voting, each of 19 voting locations will have a secure box into which ballots will be placed, according to Garbagni.

Overseeing elections in New Mexico will be the Secretary of State who can be reached at sos.elections@state.nm.us or by calling 1-505-827-3600.

To facilitate the expected dramatic jump in absentee and early voting, Corrales Comment presents below the candidates who will appear on the ballot here. As usual, this newspaper will publish candidate profiles in October. Vying for the presidency, of course, are Republican incumbent Donald Trump, Democrat Joe Biden and Libertarian Jo Jorgenson.

U.S. Senate: Democrat Ben Ray Lujan and Republican Mark Ronchetti.
U.S. Representative: Republican Michelle Garcia Holmes and Democrat Deb Haaland

N.M. Senate District 9: Democrat Brenda McKenna and Republican John Clark
N.M. House District 23: Republican Ellis McMath and Democrat Daymon Ely
N.M. House District 44: Democrat Gary Tripp, Republican Jane Powdrell-Culbert and Libertarian Jeremy Myers
N.M. Supreme Court Justice, Position 1: Republican Ned Fuller and Democrat Shannon Bacon
N.M. Supreme Court Justice Position 2: Democrat David Thomson and Republican Kerry Morris
N.M. Court of Appeals: Zach Ives (D), Barbara Johnson (R), Shammara Henderson (D); Gertrude Lee (R), Stephen Curtis (L); Jane Yohalem (D)
District Judge, 13th Judicial District (retention): George Eichwald
N.M. Public Regulation Commission: Republican Janice Arnold Jones and Democrat Cynthia Hall
District Attorney, 13th Judicial District: Democrat Barbara Romo and Republican Joshua Joe Jimenez
Sandoval County Clerk: Republican Lawrence Griego and Democrat Anne Brady Romero
Sandoval County Treasurer: Democrat Jennifer Taylor and Republican Benay Ward
Sandoval County Commission: Republican Jay Block and Democrat Leah Michelle Ahkee-Baczkiewicz

Candidate profiles for most of these can be found in the May 23, 2020 issue of Corrales Comment which reported on the June party primary elections.

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