Ugly Showdown in Chaparral, New Mexico, on Election Day
There was a legislative hearing today on problems that occurred in New Mexico during Election Day last November.
Gov. Susana Martinez received plaudits for delivering pizza and encouragement to voters who stood in long lines on Election Night in Rio Rancho.
But in the border town of Chaparral, nonpartisan volunteers who offered stranded voters water, food and chairs were threatened with arrest.
Eight uniformed officers of the Otero County Sheriff’s Office put up yellow crime-scene tape around the Chaparral polling place. Then they intimidated volunteers whose only mission was to make sure voters could stick it out long enough to exercise their right to cast a ballot, said Mariaelena Johnson of the group community group New Mexico Café.
Johnson said she called Holmes early on Election Day when lines already were long and no translators were at the Chaparral precinct. Johnson said Holmes sent two people to serve as translators, but they stayed only two hours, leaving even before the nighttime rush as people got off work and went to vote.
Johnson and other community organizers stood by to help. Fluent in Spanish, they could serve as translators if voters requested their help. But simply by being outside the precinct, they rankled election judge Mayes, Johnson said.
Johnson said the only chanting that occurred was well after sheriff’s deputies arrived. By that time, Johnson’s parents, 88 and 89 years old, were stilling standing in line to vote.
[Republican Otero County Clerk Robyn] Holmes said the large turnout in Chaparral blindsided her and her staff.
‘We weren’t prepared,’ she said.
Typically about 250 people vote in the Chaparral precinct, but twice as many showed up in November, she said. The last person in line in Chaparral finally voted at 10:45 p.m.
For Johnson, the confrontation in Chaparral was generational. She said the election judge and poll workers were all Caucasian and not attuned to helping large numbers of Hispanic people who arrived to exercise their right to vote.
Read the whole article here: Ugly Showdown in Chaparral - NM Capitol Report
It’s not technically correct to say one side in the conflict was Caucasian and the other was largely Hispanic since most Hispanics in New Mexico are Caucasian, but in a way it is correct to say it was a generational divide, since the long-time residents in positions of power were white and the relative newcomers are said to be 85% Hispanic.