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Thursday, November 4, 2004
Polling Location May Move Off Santo Domingo Pueblo
By Joshua Akers
Journal Staff Writer
The governor of Santo Domingo Pueblo wants Sandoval County to consider moving its polling location off the pueblo.
Gov. Sisto Quintana said in a telephone interview Wednesday that he closed the voting location on the pueblo Tuesday because it was the All Souls Day feast.
"The pueblo was closed for the feast and no outsiders were allowed on the pueblo," Quintana said. "I don't have to explain any more. Maybe next time, they should pick another site so it doesn't interfere."
Quintana closed the pueblo around 7:30 a.m. Tuesday and asked three election observers from the U.S. Department of Justice to leave.
The polls reopened around 5 p.m. Tuesday, and voters were allowed to cast their ballots.
There are 748 registered voters living in Santo Domingo.
The ballot box from Santo Domingo arrived at the county courthouse around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday with the results locked inside.
The county opened the box Wednesday with a court order.
But results from that precinct were not available Wednesday afternoon because election officials had gone home.
On Wednesday, County Attorney David Mathews said it would be possible for the county to move the polling location off the pueblo with approval from the Department of Justice.
"Sure, we could move it off Santo Domingo," Mathews said. "If the new governor wants it off the pueblo, we would be happy to consider it."
The county is under a consent decree with the department that is intended to protect American Indian voting rights.
On Tuesday, Richard Dellheim, an attorney for the department, said he could not comment on Santo Domingo and directed all questions to the department's press office in Washington.
The press office requested questions via e-mail and had not responded as of Wednesday afternoon.
Under the consent decree, the county is required to provide satellite clerk's offices on tribal lands for the three native languages spoken in the county.
When the agreement to provide the offices was reached in 1997, Santo Domingo was slated to host the Keres office.
The county eventually was allowed to put the Keres office in the Sandoval County Courthouse in Bernalillo because it could not work out an agreement with Santo Domingo.