Many people have been concerned this election season about voter intimidation and violence at the polls, and groups of New Mexicans mobilized to protect voting rights in their communities. Bernalillo County election officials say Election Day passed without significant problems.
Volunteers from the Election Defenders campaign, dressed in yellow, stood outside a voting center on Albuquerque’s Westside on Tuesday afternoon ready to pass out water bottles and hand sanitizer and keep an eye out for any rights violations.
Monique Carr says she got interested after seeing local news about people intimidating voters. “I came out here today because I feel relatively safe voting," she said, "and I just want everyone to be able to experience that, especially immigrants and any marginalized group of people.”
Carr says the Election Defenders organizers held online trainings about how to direct voters to good information about casting their ballot, and how to verbally de-escalate if a situation were to get heated.
After the polls closed, Bernalillo County Clerk Linda Stover said her office didn’t have to respond to any serious issues, just some people electioneering a little too close to voting centers who they had to ask to back up. "But that’s not that unusual, it happens often," Stover said. "So we didn’t have anything that we had to escalate. But we did have security out just in case there was a problem. But we did really well today."
Dede Feldman with Common Cause New Mexico said their voter protection hotline heard several complaints about police and sheriffs vehicles near polling places, and referred those to the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s office.