We'd heard a little buzz from the campaign trail on the issue of poll watchers for Santa Fe's municipal election today, so I called up the new city attorney, Geno Zamora, to get the lowdown on poll watching and the like.
Apparently, last week, both the Kepler and Coss campaigns inquired to the city about having poll watchers. Zamora then consulted the state statutes that govern municipal elections
and let both campaigns know that under the code, they would need to request poll watchers in writing and, then agree upon said poll watchers by 5 pm last Friday.
None of that happened, hence, no poll watchers.
Poll watchers, Zamora tells me, are basically out there so that campaigns can keep an eye on who is voting and let the campaign know if some folks haven't voted, so that they can be rousted from their, presumably, cozy house where they have forgotten it's an election day (this is my somewhat liberal interpretation of the info Zamora gave me; he really didn't say anything like that).
There is also something known as a poll challenger, and these folks are there to challenge problems or what have you at polling places. Placing poll challengers requires the same protocol as poll watchers.
Poll observers, on the other hand, must be approved by the governing body.
In any event, there are no watchers, challengers or observers today.
Zamora thinks the code is a bit vague and could use revision.
“My recommendation on how the code should be revised is that there needs to be a process that ensures the presence of poll watchers who can help increase voter turnout in municipal elections," he says.