Schools fear caucus flier caused confusion

By Jack King

Clovis Schools and county clerk office personnel said a sign sent by the state Democratic Party to Curry County voting sites created a small amount of voter confusion here Tuesday.
A state Democratic Party spokeswoman said the sign was sent out to reduce confusion among voters in the statewide primary, but school and county officials said the fliers confused a few people trying to vote in Tuesday’s school bond election.
The sign reads: “Today — February 3; Registered Democrats Can Vote in the Democratic Presidential Caucus; NOTICE: PRECINCTS HAVE BEEN COMBINED; IF YOU USUALLY VOTE HERE, TODAY YOU WILL VOTE AT BRUCE KING BUILDING — WEST SIDE ; IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS, CALL (800) 624-02457; THANK YOU FOR YOUR COOPERATION; Paid for by the Democratic Party of New Mexico.”
New Mexico Democratic Party spokeswoman Apryl Sandoval said the party sent the sign to all normal voting places in the state. A cover letter states that, since some voters might come to their regular voting places in an attempt to vote in the Democratic caucus, the sign tells them the designated voting site.
But Clovis Schools Assistant Superintendent for Operations Lonnie Leslie said the signs went to local schools that serve as regular voting places, most of which were not being used as voting places Tuesday. The signs directing voters to the Bruce King Building confused at least one person trying to vote in the bond election, he said.
“A caller said a friend had gone to Highland Elementary at about 9 a.m. and saw a sign that said go to the Bruce King Building,” he said.
Leslie contacted the Curry County Clerk’s office and Deputy County Clerk Coni Jo Lyman contacted Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron. Vigil-Giron said Tuesday she told Lyman she could remove the signs if they were obstructing the election. Lyman relayed the information to Leslie, who told principals in the schools to take the signs down or not to post them.
County Bureau of Elections technician Karen Screws said the clerk’s office received no complaints about the signs other than Leslie’s call.
“I don’t think it became a problem, because we got to our precinct captains early and provided them with the right information,” she said.
Vigil-Giron and Sandoval said they did not receive complaints about the signs from any other part of the state. Curry County Democratic Party chairwoman Sandra Martin said she did not receive complaints about the signs from voters at Bruce King Building, although some were confused about where to go to vote in the school bond election.
But, Martin added, she wishes the state party had told her about the mailout.
“They never contacted me to say they were putting the signs out. If I had known about it, I would have been able to answer questions about it or talk to the county clerk’s office in advance,” she said.