Rio Rancho will get a more generous distribution of voting locations for the 2014 primary and general elections under a resolution approved this week by the Sandoval County Commission.
The resolution establishes 17 voting convenience centers in Rio Rancho and two in Corrales.
The rest of Sandoval County will have traditional precinct-based polling sites, county spokesman Sidney Hill said.
Rio Rancho, a city with more than 50,000 registered voters, had five voting centers in the 2012 general election. On Election Day, voters experienced long lines and hours of waiting. Many gave up before casting ballots. A lawsuit claiming the voting center arrangement disenfranchised Rio Rancho voters is still pending in federal court.
“We had this meltdown (in Rio Rancho) last time because these numbers were – for whatever reason – grossly underestimated. We want to make sure that doesn’t happen again,” said Commissioner Don Chapman, who represents part of the city.
Chapman said he wasn’t happy with a proposal the county’s Bureau of Elections staff presented in early October that provided about half a dozen voting centers in Rio Rancho, and allowed two each for Corrales and Bernalillo, which have populations of less than 10,000.
Chapman said he asked the county clerk and county Bureau of Elections staff to increase the number of voting centers for Rio Rancho, and to ensure each center had an adequate number of parking spaces and ballot machines to cope with the city’s population of registered voters.
The commission also approved creating a new polling precinct for Jemez Pueblo by splitting the existing Precinct 15 in two. The new precinct is designated Precinct 77.
In other matters, commissioners approved a $7 million loan from New Mexico Finance Authority for a project to expand the county landfill at Iris and Idalia in Rio Rancho. The county was authorized to borrow up to $9 million but staff determined they didn’t need that much, Hill said. The loan is expected to close in early November, he said.