Early bird voters have two options this year

Clovis resident Jo Ann Teeter casts her early voting ballot Monday at the Curry County Courthouse. Photo by Eric Kluth.

By Jack King

A little more than 1 percent of Curry County’s registered voters have participated so far in early voting for the Sept. 23 special election.
Since early and absentee voting started on Aug. 26, 161 people have come to the county clerk’s office in the Curry County Courthouse, or to an alternate voting site in North Plains Mall, to cast ballots. Officials said 99 people have mailed in early ballots. There are 18,000 voters registered in the county, Curry County Clerk Mario Trujillo said.
Trujillo said no more than 25 percent of the county’s registered voters usually participate in elections.
“I’m surprised people are turning out as well as they are,” he said.
Gov. Bill Richardson is seeking voter approval for two Constitutional amendments. One would create a cabinet-level secretary of education and change the makeup of the state board of education, while a second would increase the percent of money taken from the state’s Land Grant Permanent Fund to pay for education reforms.
Also on the Sept. 23 ballot is a request from the Curry County Commission to increase gross receipts taxes by one-eighths of 1 percent to pay increasing county government expenses.
Trujillo said the North Plains Mall voting site was established in response to a state law passed this year that requires an alternate voting site in cities or counties with 10,000 or more registered voters.
The North Plains Mall site is located near the military recruiting offices. It is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and from noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.
Early voters also may vote in the county clerk’s office, in Suite 7 of the Curry County Courthouse, 700 N. Main. The office is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. It also will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 20, the last day of early voting.
Registered voters also may obtain an early ballot by phoning the clerk’s office at 763-5591. However, once a request for a ballot has been made, a record is kept and a voter cannot attempt to vote at either the clerk’s office or at North Plains Mall.
“We haven’t had that happen too often,” Trujillo said. “We’ve had one gentleman … He said he just happened to be in the courthouse and wanted to stop and vote. We looked at his record and found he’d also requested a ballot to be mailed to his house. Once we told him, he said, ‘Oh yeah, sorry about that.’”