Chief Deputy County Clerk Joey Dominguez, County Clerk Anne Brady-Romero and Bureau of Elections Manager Tina Dominguez (left to right) pose in the county’s Voting Machine Warehouse surrounded by voting machines and other equipment to be used in the general election. Bill Devin, Sandoval Signpost

The mid-term election has arrived as early voting begins this month as the complex process of preparing and securing polling sites and voting equipment shifts into showtime.


Early, in-person and absentee voting begins on October 11 at the County Administrative Building
with secure containers known as drop boxes for absentee ballots being placed there and at the former
county courthouse in downtown Bernalillo, Corrales Village Hall, and the Placitas Community Library.
Absentee ballots are collected daily by the county clerk’s staff and stored in a process that maintains
secure custody.


Early, in-person voting expands on October 22, at the county administration building and eight other
sites. It starts at the Placitas Community Library two days later, delayed by a previously scheduled
event.


Early voting ends on November 5, the Saturday before Election Day, November 8. New Mexico permits same-day voter registration at voting sites with a state driver’s license or ID card, a document
showing county residence plus a photo ID, or with a college ID and current fee statement showing
county residency.


Various early voting days are scheduled at pueblos and Navajo chapter houses. Schedules, locations,
and other information can be found on the county website—SandovalCountyNM.gov—by selecting
Departments/Bureau of Elections.


Placitas will see just one voting convenience center, instead of the usual two, after Department of
Justice monitors raised concerns before the June primary about accessibility at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church. County Public Works crews were able to finesse such issues at a number of sites, but both
the church and Bernalillo High School were dropped from the general election.


Drop boxes are one of multiple points of contention nationally and locally as the unproven claims of
conspiracy and fraud in the 2020 presidential election spread into suspicion and fears about election
security in general. The four drop boxes in this election now are to be inside public buildings and monitored 24-hours a day.


Surveillance videos are checked for signs of attempted tampering, County Clerk Anne Brady-Romero
told the Signpost. Changes also have been made at the Voting Machine Warehouse where the county voters in the general election get a direct say-so on some public policies and spending, as bond issues and three constitutional amendments appear on the November 8 ballot.


Sandoval County commissioners have approved two bond questions that would borrow money for
libraries and pay for all, or part, of an expanded and upgraded Judicial Complex. The bonds would be repaid from property tax revenue.

Meanwhile, the 2022 Legislature approved three statewide questions for bond sales, also paid back from
property taxes.

The constitutional amendments relate to a new payout from one of the state’s permanent funds for educational purposes, changing how quickly some appointed judge have to run for election, and allowing public money to be spent for certain residential uses.


The County Questions:
• Library bonds for facilities, books, and other resources, $1.9 million repaid from general tax revenue:
Library bonds are issued on a regular cycle with new bonds sold as old ones are retired. That keeps the tax rate about the same, although it would drop slightly if voters reject the bonds.


• Construction bonds to renovate, expand, and equip the county Judicial Complex, up to $41 million repaid by property taxes. Starting with a new building, two judges, three courtrooms, and no jury room in 2005, the District Court in Bernalillo now has five judges with another and more staff needed. The caseloads have continued to grow as the county added 46,000 residents, a 43 percent increase. Counties are required to provide court space, but the vote to raise taxes for this project caused a bipartisan 3-2 split of county commissioners. If the county were on the hook for the full $41 million, it would add about $18 to taxes on a $300,000 house for several years and lesser amounts going forward, according to estimates presented at a commission meeting. The county, however, plans to delay issuing the bonds until after the 2023 Legislature has a chance to contribute from its burgeoning revenue, while the county looks for additional resources. The county also is considering a design-build project that speeds up construction and
reduces costs. The sheriff’s office will move out of the building once the Public Safety Complex, now under construction, is completed. Plans call for Magistrate Court to move into the upgraded Judicial Complex.

State Constitutional Amendments:
• Amend Article 6, Section 35: This change would allow a judge appointed to fill a vacancy on the
Supreme Court or Court of Appeals to serve at least one year before running for the position in a general election, which occurs every two years. As is, such appointed judges can face election almost immediately
after being appointed.
• Amend Article 9, Section 14, known as the “AntiDonation Cause:” This would add to the short list of
exemptions where public money can be spent for private purposes, in this case “essential household services” like water, internet, and energy. Expenditures would require legislative approval.


A League of Women Voters discussion cites the pandemic exacerbating the lack of such services in rural
New Mexico and also how such funds could be used to match federal grants for rural services.
The LWV also notes critics of the proposed amendment are concerned about its vague languages on the services involved and who would benefit.
• Amend Article 12, Section 7: Debated for many years, this amendment would
boost the distribution of income from the Land Grant Permanent Fund for educational purposes to earmark the increase for at-risk students, longer school years, teacher salaries and early childhood education. At the end of the 2021, the fund fed by oil and gas royalties held $26 billion. Proponents of the amendment have cited the state’s low education rankings and need for improvements, while critics
have worried money taken from income instead of being reinvested will harm the body of the fund.
Statewide Bond Projects Repaid from Property Taxes:

  • Question 1: $24 million for senior citizen facility improvements, construction, and equipment.
  • Question 2: $19 million for higher education, school, public, and tribal libraries.
  • Question 3: $216 million for capital improvements to higher education, special schools, and tribal schools.

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