Voters tend to have long memories — especially if they were left standing outside for hours waiting to vote.
Good thing newly installed Sandoval County Clerk Eileen Garbagni has a few years to get things right — and four years before she’s up for re-election.
Garbagni oversees the Bureau of Elections, which took a lot of heat for its so-called “convenience centers” for voting in the General Election. Some voters waited as long as five hours to cast their votes and President Obama was announced the winner while some still had hours before they could vote.
Garbagni served as the chief deputy county clerk under her predecessor, Sally Padilla, who retired at the end of 2012.
Last week, Garbagni stated that she wants to do away with convenience centers and go back to each precinct having its own polling place. She identified one of the main problems with the convenience centers as not having enough ballot machines to process the ballots.
Indeed, the process of identifying a voter by his or her individual precinct and then printing a ballot with each person’s specific candidates and questions took an extraordinary amount of time. That was evident even at the early voting centers.
The long lines generated questions about the integrity of the election and cast doubt on whether the long lines could have cost candidates votes. Some candidates accused Padilla’s office of “suppressing the vote” and “fraud” and filed lawsuits, but eventually dropped them.
Garbagni has agreed to work with the Sandoval County Commission to resolve the issues and look at getting its buy-in for the next election cycle. The commission passed a resolution in December that requires the clerk to provide it with the analysis used to determine the voting method for each precinct as well as calculations of how long it will take for each person to vote.
If the county moves to voting at the precinct level, as she suggested, it will certainly require more ballot machines. Let’s start by making sure the county — or state — allocates the resources to supply the additional ballot machines. Residents are encouraged to share their opinion on convenience centers vs precinct polling places.