Democratic Party launches hotline on voting procedures

U.S. Elections

Santa Fe County election workers sort absentee ballots in Santa Fe, N.M., on Friday, June 5, 2020, four days after the close of the primary election. Republican election observers are expressing frustration at the delays. The final count will determine the GOP nominee in New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District, and the delays hold implications for the administration of the general election in November. (AP Photo/Morgan Lee)

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) – The Democratic Party of New Mexico hopes to broaden participation in the Nov. 3 election as it launches a daytime telephone hotline and online resources about balloting.

State Democratic Party Executive Director Chelsey Evans said the initiative beginning Monday aims to inform voters about new options and deadlines for requesting and casting absentee ballots.

The coronavirus pandemic already reshaped voting in New Mexico, with absentee voting by mail or drop-off delivery soaring in popularity during the June primary. Temporary election reforms adopted in June by the Legislature and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham having altered ballot-request deadlines, adding a new signature requirement and providing for ballot tracking by postal bar codes.

Evans said the voter education project sponsored by Democrats will publicize key deadlines such as Oct. 20, the last date when absentee ballot requests can be received by county clerks. Hotline operators won’t ask callers about party affiliation and are available to help anyone with voting questions, she said.

Prominent Democratic officials are concerned that President Donald Trump may be trying to undermine the U.S. Postal Service ahead of the election. Evans said voters can limit the impact of mail delays by using a website to request an absentee ballot, and then using drop-boxes or going to election offices directly to turn them in.

“We see a lot of enthusiasm and we want to make sure that that enthusiasm is captured and that people can access the ballot,” she said. The party has scrapped door-to-door canvassing operations in response to COVID-19 and is focusing more resources on providing answers about voting procedures via telephone and online.

Registered New Mexico voters can request an absentee ballot for any reason. Ballots can be turned in from Oct. 6 through Election Day.

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