No More Normal: Get Out And Vote

Oct 4, 2020

Millions of people around the U.S. have already voted early. Simultaneously many people are preparing to fill out their ballots, but are concerned with how they will deliver them, and, more importantly, if their vote will be counted. So many questions. Here at NoMoNo, we are going to dig deep to find answers for you. Episode 11 is all about preserving and exercising your right to vote. We talk with New Mexico's secretary of state, the president of the Albuquerque chapter of the American Postal Workers Union, a national election law expert, activists who protecting voting rights for underserved communities—and voters.

Tuesday, Oct. 6, is the last day in New Mexico that you can register to vote by mail or online for this election, though you can register in-person at your county clerk's office up through Halloween. 

A quick note: Some of these interviews we did early on in the week before President Trump revealed he had contracted coronavirus.

Matthew Weil is the director of the Elections Project for the Bipartisan Policy Center, a think tank in D.C. Everyone's looking closely at election law the last few days. We ask him about what courses of action political parties would take if a presidential candidate dies before the election.

Lonna Atkeson is the director for the UNM Center for the Study of Voting, Elections, and Democracy. With so many legal questions concerning the election and its process, we reach out to her for insight on this week's news.

"Make Your Voice Count," a digital image created in 2020
Credit Eliana Rodriguez

We’re launching the Voices Behind The Vote series this week, where we find out about who voters are and what they care about. We’ve got a couple in this episode: Executive Producer Marisa Demarco catches up with voter Art Simoni, who was her editor when she was a student reporter nearly 20 years ago. Reporter Nash Jones speaks with Reina Davis, a 23-year-old Albuquerque voter who, while not particularly excited about her options for president, sees voting as harm-reduction and as one facet of fighting for reproductive justice. And Jones also talks to Albuquerque voter Georgia Petropoulos, who owns Casa San Pablo, a senior-living home, about how the pandemic affected her small business and now informs her vote.

Free and fair elections should be bedrocks in any democracy. The dependence on ethical governance is key to having a thriving country. Heather Ferguson is the executive director of Common Cause New Mexico, an organization that focuses on ethics and accountability in government.

Felicia Montoya writes Montoya writes: "With such an important election this year, we felt like we had to do something! Our idea was to create a mural to serve as a reminder of our civic responsibility to vote. Make our voices heard! As an extra step, I registered as a voter registration agent and provided voter registration forms to anyone interested."
Credit Felicia Montoya, Markus Wall and Kema

Maggie Toulouse Oliver is the secretary of state for New Mexico. That means she is coordinating the state’s election process. Hence, she’s very busy. We hear from her about the types of conversations she’s had with postal officials and the confidence New Mexicans can have in the voting process.

The United States Postal Service has been in the spotlight this year as millions of Americans prepare to vote by mail due to the pandemic. Yet, actions by the administration to cut some of the funding to the Postal Service has not only drawn scrutiny but raised questions about the millions of ballots already being cast and whether voters can be sure that their vote will get to where it needs to be—on time. We speak with Ken Fajardo, president of the American Postal Workers Union, Local 380, Albuquerque.

Elections are about every single vote having the same value as we select our leaders. All of our voices should be heard in this process. Rachel Biggs with Albuquerque Health Care for the Homeless talks with us about your right to vote whether or not if you have a home.  

Rodney Bowe is with the New Mexico Black Voters Collaborative and stops by to talk about the importance of voting in the Black community, as well as the collaborative’s get-out-the-vote efforts.

Andrea Serrano is with OLÉ, Organizers in the Land of Enchantment, an organization that fights voter suppression and disenfranchisement. We talk about insidious voter suppression in New Mexico and how the right to vote can be preserved.

Rev. William Barber has traveled to New Mexico and all around the country organizing with the Poor Peoples’ Campaign: A National Call For a Moral Revival. Reporter Russell Contreras spoke with Rev. Barber for New Mexico PBS, and asked him why poverty should be on the agenda during the 2020 elections in New Mexico.

Credit Felicia Montoya, Markus Wall and Kema

If you run into trouble as you vote, call 1-866-OUR-VOTE. Voting rights advocates will be waiting to hear from you. Common Cause also has hotlines for people who speak other languages. Find all those numbers at commoncause.org.

You can imagine that the NoMoNo team has been talking about little besides this election and how to cover it all week. This is what we’re working on for the duration. We’re starting this special run of shows by talking about voting—a hard-won right that we have to keep fighting for. Reflecting on that, here’s an editorial from Khalil Ekulona, and from the show:

The tumultuous winds of 2020 have thrust our collective beings into the air, thrashing us about, blowing through any sense of normalcy, mental clarity and emotional groundedness. Some of us, not all, are recognizing the things we took for granted in our lives. Some took for granted the unwritten set of rules, or principles in presidential politics.

Yes, last week’s debate was not the one we needed—but the one we deserved. That’s easy to see as even the term bipartisan has been eroded from our vocabulary; it's bound to be on a list of endangered words sometime soon. The usual explanation is that there are two Americas now, conveniently referred to as the right and the left, the red and the blue. However, that is not correct. There are 328 million Americas, and each one is different. We all have our perception of what this country was, is, and what it should be.

We are all grabbing onto the flag pulling it toward us, so that dream we were sold would have a chance of becoming true. Anything pulled in 328 million different directions is bound to strain and tear. America is no different. We are at a moment where our flag is held together by one thread, the thread that binds us as members of a democracy. Our vote is that thread. Now we must come together and figure out how to work together as humans, as a country, to weave a new fabric of the nation. 

Credit Felicia Montoya, Markus Wall and Kema

There’s more on the ballot than the presidential race. Your congresspeople have made decisions about the relief packages that were keeping many people across America afloat, for instance. Judges, too, are on your ballots as you weigh criminal justice reform and eviction moratoriums. And plenty more. Local politicians have impacted your life lately more than ever. And we’re going to try to make sure we have answers for you about the decisions they’ve made in this precarious time as you cast your ballots

Special thanks to:

  • Ty Bannerman, Kaveh Mowahed, Hannah Colton and Yasmin Khan for the editing help this week
  • Our media partner New Mexico PBS and reporter Russell Contreras for the interview with Rev. Barber
  • Shoutout to Nash Jones for the reporting
  • Cheo, Jazztone the Producer, Dahm Life, and Oh Lawd records for providing music for the show.
  • Khaki, Pope Yesyesyall, and Bigawatt produced some of the shows themes.

The artwork for this episode comes from artist Eliana Rodriguez. Felicia Montoya, Markus Wall and Kema also shared photos with us of a mural they just painted in Albuquerque’s North Valley.

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No More Normal is brought to you by Your New Mexico Government, a collaboration between KUNM, New Mexico PBS, and The Santa Fe Reporter. Funding for our coverage comes from The New Mexico Local News Fund, The Kellogg Foundation, and KUNM listeners. Support for public media provided by the Thornburg Foundation.

Credit Felicia Montoya, Markus Wall and Kema