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There are a number of ways to help with the election process

Poll workers ready on Election Day at Salazar Elementary in Santa Fe, 2020.
Kaveh Mowahed
Poll workers ready on Election Day at Salazar Elementary in Santa Fe, 2020.

We recently had a listener use the America Amplified widget on our homepage to ask a question about the upcoming election. She said, “yes,” when asked online if she was available to work at the polls but had not yet received a response. KUNM found that for most folks, the deadline to apply to be an election worker passed September 27th, but there are some exceptions.

State Election Director Mandy Vigil said county clerks are already well underway with training of election boards –- those are the presiding judges and election workers at polling places who check-in voters and collect ballots at the end.

Vigil said the training process takes time and the Secretary of State is working to make sure poll workers and presiding judges are prepared for any unlikely interference from the public or even from the workers themselves who are bound by statute to follow the state election code.

However, because some places might be short-staffed or have cancellations, Secretary of State's office spokesperson Alex Curtas said people may still be able apply by calling their local county clerk's office. That's also how to sign up for next time.

You’ll have to be a registered voter living in the county you’d like to work in, unrelated to any candidate, and not employed in law enforcement to serve on an election board.

Vigil said state and county political party chairs can still appoint election challengers — the people who challenge ballots if they feel they might be unlawful — and people to watch the ballot count after the polls close.

Vigil specified that there is great interest among the public in watching the canvass of mail-in ballots. “Interest in the election process is growing, in the early voting process, but even more they want to observe the absentee process,” she said.

Then there are election watchers and observers. They’re appointed by non-partisan “election-related organizations” like the University of New Mexico or Common Cause, a group that supports an open democracy. The organizations have to apply to the Secretary of State before naming watchers and observers, at least a week before appearing at a polling place, so there’s still a chance there for people to get involved this year.

Vigil said the best way to participate in the election now, and also the easiest, is to vote. You can visit early voting locations now or show up on election day, November 8th.

If you have questions about the upcoming election go to the America Amplified widget at KUNM.org and we’ll try to find the answer.
This report is part of our Your New Mexico Government project, a collaboration between KUNM radio and New Mexico PBS. Support for public media provided by the Thornburg Foundation.

Kaveh Mowahed is a reporter with KUNM who follows government, public health and housing. Send story ideas to kaveh@kunm.org.
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