In political circles, people used to always talk about voting as a civic responsibility. That’s fine. Democracy will crumble (has crumbled?) without an engaged citizenry. But the conversation about voting has changed somewhat in the 21st century. People don’t talk about duty so much anymore. These days the message is usually about power. As in, use it or lose it, baby.
With that in mind, you can play a role in directing the future of Albuquerque on Election Day, Tuesday, Oct. 6. Or you can sit at home and whine to your mom about how you wish the bus system was easier to use, or there were recycling bins closer to your house, or less crime in your neighborhood or whatever. Your choice.
If you do choose to use the power that’s been given to you, here’s what you need to know:
Unlike last year, in this election you are required to bring an ID that includes your name and a photo.
• Bring a photo ID. Unlike last year, in this election you are required to bring an ID that includes your name and a photo. Don’t worry about the accuracy of the address or anything else. The ID doesn’t even have to be current, as long as poll officials can recognize your face and your name. If you forget to bring a photo ID, you are entitled to vote on a provisional ballot, but you will have to return to the City Clerk’s Office within 10 days of the election to show a valid photo ID for that ballot to be counted.
• Figure out where you’re supposed to vote before you leave for the polls. Sounds obvious, but here’s the kicker: The place you voted last year will probably not be the place you need to vote this year. Polling places have been consolidated for this election. The city clerk has a handy tool on his website, cabq.gov/clerk. (Click on “Find out where you vote” under the “Elections” heading.) You’ll need to enter your first and last name exactly as you registered them, along with your birth date.
We’re all hoping for a smooth Election Day, but it’s certainly possible that problems will arise. Your polling place might not open on time. (They’re supposed to be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.) Poll workers might run out of ballots. A rogue official might refuse to accept a valid photo ID.
If you experience any problems whatsoever, call the City Clerk’s Office at 768-3030. You can also use the services provided by Count Every Vote New Mexico, an election protection program created by Common Cause New Mexico. Basic information on this election is at counteveryvotenm.org.
The program also uses a voter hotline, (866) OUR-VOTE, hosted by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. You can record a voting problem and an election expert will return your call within minutes. Finally, the Bernalillo County Clerk will have additional staff members available on Election Day to answer your questions, and they can be reached at 468-1291.
Good luck, and have a happy Election Day.
Steven Robert Allen is the Executive Director of Common Cause New Mexico and the former editor of the Alibi .