Oct 30 - Nov 5, 2008 
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Voting Bloc

Poll Pointers

By Alibi staff report

Can I wear T-shirts, pins, stickers or other items with candidates' names on them to the polls?

No matter how much you might want to, you can’t bring anything to polling sites or early voting locations that could be considered “campaign materials.” You also can’t display literature that endorses a candidate. A sheet of paper with the people you want to vote for is A-OK.

If you decide to use the Alibi’s clip-out voter guide, keep it in your pocket while you’re waiting in line to avoid violating the rules.

Since lines at early voting locations have sometimes been long, will the wait be long on Election Day?

Bernalillo County Clerk's spokesperson Liz Hamm wouldn't speculate about how busy polls might be on Nov. 4. As of Friday, Oct. 25 (the most up-to-date information available as of press time), more than 57,052 people had cast ballots early and 40,146 absentee ballots had been received. As of Friday, Oct. 17, 393,061 people were registered to vote in Bernalillo County.

How do I find out if and where I'm registered?

Go to bernco.gov. Click on the "General Election 2008 Information" link in the middle of the page. In the upper right-hand corner, click on the "Where Do I Vote?" link. Once you're on that page, plug in your name and date of birth and click "submit." If your name, address and where you need to vote pops up, you're registered. If it doesn't, call the County Clerk's Office at 468-1291.

Are they counting early votes, including absentee ballots, as they come in?

Absentee ballots are counted five days before Nov. 4 (Election Day). Early votes won't be tallied until Election Day.

Will all votes be counted, even if the outcome is statistically certain?

Everything gets counted.

Are there more polling places than usual in anticipation of a large turnout?

No. Polling places are determined by how many people live in certain areas, not by how many voters are expected to turn out. There are 423 polling stations this year.

What if I get to my polling place and the line is enormous? Are there any overspill voting locations?

No. Your safest bet, if you want to avoid an enormous line, is to vote early.

Can I fill out a paper ballot at a polling station or do I have to use the electronic machines?

Every ballot in New Mexico is a paper ballot. After you fill it out, your vote gets tabulated by an optical scanner.

What’s being done to make sure those scanners aren’t hacked?

Bernalillo County Clerk's spokesperson Hamm says there will be random checks by County Clerk staff to weed out discrepancies between the number of votes recorded by the scanners and the number of paper ballots they have actually scanned. After all the votes have been calculated, there will be a recount of all the ballots within two days after Election Day.

What forms of ID can I bring?

Acceptable forms include any government issued ID, such as a driver’s license or passport. You can also bring in a utility bill or bank statement with your name and address on it. If you don’t have any of that, all you have to do is give your name, date of birth and the address you’re registered with.

If I'm not already registered, how do I register?

Unfortunately, the cutoff to register to vote in this election was Oct. 7. But do yourself a favor and register now so you won’t have this problem next time. Registration forms can be requested or picked up at the County Clerk’s Office (468-1290), the Office of the Secretary of State (505-827-3600), any public library or at Motor Vehicle Department locations (MVD expresses included). Mail your registration to the County Clerk’s Office at One Civic Plaza NW, Albuquerque, N.M. 87102. If hand-delivering your registration, the office is on the sixth floor.

If this is your first time registering within the state or country and you’re mailing your registration, you need to include a photocopy of a current ID, paycheck, bank statement, utility bill or any other government document with your name and residence on it. Visit the County Clerk’s website at bernco.gov/clerk to make sure you have everything you need.

Can I still vote early?

Yes, if you hurry. Early voting polls close at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 1. See this week's feature for early voting locations and hours.

When is my absentee ballot due?

All absentee ballots must be postmarked by Friday, Oct. 31. You can also hand-deliver your absentee ballot by 5 p.m. on Oct. 31 at the Bernalillo County Clerk’s Office. If you’ve requested an absentee ballot but don’t fill it out before the deadline, you can vote at your polling precinct on Nov. 4 with a provisional ballot after signing an affidavit. Both the provisional ballot and affidavit will be provided at the polling place.

Does my employer have to let me vote? What if they tell me I can't?

Employees who work from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. are required by law to get two hours to vote on Election Day. But if your job starts two hours after the polls open or ends three hours before the polls close, your employer doesn't have to give you time to vote. Employers who don't follow these rules are in violation of the law, and you can report them to the Secretary of State's Office by calling (800) 477-3632.

When do I vote?

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 4. Polls are open between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. If you’re still in line when the polls close, have no fear, you’ll still be able to vote.

 
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