While many of us are focused on the demands of the pandemic, the primary election came up quick in New Mexico, and the general election is right around the corner. What is the consequence of doing nothing at all this election cycle? In episode 68, we take a look at the primary coming up on Tuesday, June 2, with a narrow focus on the state and local elections. The fast spread of coronavirus has forced elected and appointed officials to make urgent life-or-death decisions, so we need all the information possible to make the best choice. And we learn about the difficulty with voting on tribal lands right now, and the efforts voting-access advocates are putting in to make things better come November.
We hear from Common Cause's Amber Carrillo, who's been working with tribes on voting access and information for years, about the hard calls some tribal leaders are having to make during the primary, some deciding not to set up polling locations on tribal lands. She's got all the info about how and where you can vote, still pretty close to home.
Ahtza Dawn Chavez, executive director of NM Native Vote, furthers this conversation, and talks about what's at stake this primary—but also with an understanding that people are facing a lot of serious challenges in their tribal communities that are diverting attention and resources away from the primary election.
Reporter Dan McKa, from the Albuquerque Journal, lets us in on the primary races he's got his eye on, and underscores how important these local races are, especially since officials people might not be familiar with are making decisions that impact our daily lives during the pandemic.
And PBS Senior Producer Matt Grubs adds to that info with a survey of tight primary races, plus transparency concerns around the coming special session for the state Legislature, coming up on June 18.
And a news update: Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced Thursday afternoon that restaurants, gyms and barber shops can open their doors again on Monday, June 1, but not at full capacity, according to the Santa Fe Reporter. Restaurants can run at half capacity. Gyms, too. Hair salons and indoor malls can open up at 25% of their capacity. Everyone has to wear a mask, the governor said, and respect social distancing. Bars, movie theaters, concerts and large gatherings are still off the table.
There are improvements in numbers across the state. But there were 108 new cases of the virus announced at the same time, bringing the total to 7,364. Six more people have died in New Mexico, according to officials, which brings the total to 335.
The curve is flattening at last on the Navajo Nation, President Jonathan Nez announced Wednesday, acknowledging that the orders and curfews were really extreme, but they worked, he said. There is another 57-hour lockdown this weekend, starting Friday at 8 pm and lasting until Monday at 5 am. Still, hospital visits are down 30% to 40%, Nez said. Officials say the number of cases is still climbing, reaching almost 5,000 today, but people are being tested there at a higher rate than anywhere else in the US.
We're keeping a complete list of the resources and volunteer opportunities that we find for each episode at bit.ly/YNMGhub. And here's what we got from today.
Resources: Get more from Matt Grubs and New Mexico PBS: newmexicopbs.org. Their flagship show New Mexico In Focus airs Fridays at 7 pm; read some of Dan McKay's work at the Albuquerque Journal here: www.abqjournal.com/author/dmckay; discover how you can help ensure that everyone in New Mexico can exercise their right to vote by getting informed and or involved with Common Cause; head to NMnativeVote.org and NAVAeducationproject.org for more information on their efforts to provide fair and safe voting places; gig through the League of Women Voters Online Voter Guide for info that could serve you as you fill out your ballot on Tuesday.
How are things going for you? We want to know. Share your quarantine stories by calling: (505) 218-7084 and leaving us a message. We could roll them into a future episode.