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Steady and slow at area primary election polling sites

Slow, steady and pretty routine.

That’s how presiding judges at many area polling places described voter turnout for Tuesday’s primary election.

“When we first opened this morning there were 10 to 15 people in line waiting and it’s been steady ever since with two to four voters flowing through at any given time,” said Lisa Hurtado, presiding judge at the Esther Bone Memorial Library in Rio Rancho.

Most other voting sites throughout the Albuquerque area reported the same — short lines waiting when they opened, and small but steady turnout throughout the rest of the day.

There were a few exceptions. Waits of 20-minutes or longer were reported at Petroglyph Plaza on Golf Course Road NW, south of Paseo del Norte; Caracol Plaza at Tramway and Montgomery NE; and Daskalos Plaza on Menaul NE, east of San Mateo, said Bernalillo County Clerk Linda Stover.

There were no reports from any of the 69 polling places in the county of voting machine glitches or breakdowns, she said. “All the polling places came online this morning just as they were expected to.”

Joey Keefe, spokesman for the Secretary of State’s office also said there were no reports of major problems at voting sites statewide. “Our staff gets calls throughout election day from voters and polling officials who have questions, but we haven’t heard of anything that required intervention.”

Many of the calls have been about which counties allow voters to cast a ballot at any voter convenience center, versus those counties that use the more traditional method where voters cast a ballot at a specific polling place as determined by their address. Some counties use a combination of both polling arrangements, Keefe said

At Daskalos Plaza, a line of about 125 people still snaked out the door at 6:30 p.m., just a half hour before the polls closed. More people showed up after work than anticipated “so we sent out a trouble-shooting team to set up two more ballot-on-demand machines,” Stover said. “People should be moving through very quickly. It’s good to know that people are showing up to vote. It’s an excellent problem to have.”

Unless, of course, you’re one of those people waiting to vote in the storefront, where the air conditioning was not working and outside temperatures hovered around 97 degrees.

Carole Conley was undeterred by the temperature or the lines at Daskalos. “I would stay six hours if I had to. It’s my job, it’s my civic duty. I work in healthcare and I feel our healthcare system is struggling. We need to elect somebody who appreciates that. And we need more jobs. I don’t want my kids to go to college for four or five years and then work at a Starbucks — not that there’s anything wrong with Starbucks — but those are not the kind of jobs we need.”

Also standing in line was voter Walter Fayne. “It’s the least we can do. Things have to change and this is where it starts,” he said.

Fayne said voters need to “get rid of the corruption” in government, “starting with the White House and working our way down.”

“It was easy and really fast,” said voter Martha Grimes, as she exited the Esther Bone polling place. “I looked everyone up beforehand, so I knew who I was going to vote for.”

Education was a big issue to Rio Rancho voter Barbara Pelle. “We have two little boys so that’s a concern, as is getting new employers into the state so that when young people graduate they have jobs that will keep them in New Mexico.”

Tish Tena left the Petroglyph Plaza voter site disappointed, not realizing that as a registered Independent she was unable to cast a ballot.

Ralph Oropello, right, votes at Petroglyph Plaza in New Mexico's primary election

Ralph Oropello, right, votes at Petroglyph Plaza in New Mexico’s primary election. (Marla Brose/Albuquerque Journal)

“I will vote in the general election and I will be voting Democrat all the way this year. I want a better balance of power in the House and in the Senate.”

Tena said she was also concerned about the current immigration policies that have separated parents from children. “They took the kids put them in some old Walmart near the border and blacked out the windows and won’t let anybody in.”

Tadg Woods, another voter at the Petroglyph Plaza location said he was looking for candidates who would protect the environment.

“Open lands should not be used for drilling, wilderness should be protected, and water should be clean, free flowing and kept in New Mexico,” he said.

“People keep saying the economy is great. It’s not. It sucks,” Woods said. “There are supposed to be all these jobs, but they’re lousy jobs. You can’t raise a family on what these jobs pay, you can’t pay your bills, you can’t live on it and have to take second and third jobs.”

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