COMMENTARY: I believe voting makes a difference and, in my role in the County Clerk’s Office, I want to inspire people to believe in voting and to participate in the process.
The foundation of increasing voting in Doña Ana County starts with managing successful elections with trusted results.
When people cast their vote, they are doing so trusting that it will count and make a difference in our community. I work hard to ensure that people have access to vote, are well informed about the process, and that every vote counts.
I am proud that over 24,000 people voted in this year’s primary election. Our plan created opportunities for people to vote and resulted in a smooth primary election, but this is just the beginning.
This year we launched our outreach plan to educate and inform voters across Doña Ana County about the voting process and how they can participate. We brought registration directly to the people in our community, we implemented a marketing plan countywide that included materials in Spanish, and through our efforts we registered over 700 people, including over 300 people in our local high schools. We also partnered with community members to create the first Election Advisory Council to make increasing voting a community effort.
During early voting for the primary there were many firsts. For the first time ever, 17-year-olds, who will be 18 in November, were able to cast their vote in a primary election. I, myself, began voting at 18, which developed in me a sense of citizenship resulting in a lifetime of voting. We also opened our doors on Memorial Day for people who wanted to honor the veterans who died for our freedom. 460 people voted on Memorial Day.
With over 8,500 people voting early, we anticipated there would also be a good turnout for Election Day so we implemented several tools to make the day run smoother.
First, we provided user-friendly sample ballots online. People could make their selections online and then print the ballot to use as a reference in the voting booth. It was mobile friendly so people could also access it while in line at the polls. We partnered with both the city and county bus lines to provide free bus fare to take people to the polls, including Dial-A-Ride. We used tablets to sign people in as they waited in line, reducing their wait time. Finally, we provided an online tool that informed people about the length of lines so they could choose to vote at the most convenient voting center for them.
A successful election requires sufficient planning, successful execution and implementation, and experience to manage the hundreds of moving parts.
I have gained more experience and learned something new with every election in my years with the Clerk’s Office. Among other things, each election requires countless hours of planning, training, managing staff and resources, testing equipment for accuracy, knowledge of the law, and problem solving on Election Day.
Planning begins well before an election so that every staff member and poll worker is prepared, and each piece of equipment is in order. We hire over 250 poll workers to work an election. Their training is extensive and includes operating the equipment, managing emergencies, logistics, as well as working with challengers, watchers, observers, and voters.
Managing staff in elections is a critical piece of our success. My staff works long hours during elections, many of us sacrificing time with our families and loved ones, to make sure that we have a successful election. We test about 120 voting machines for accuracy by running a “test deck” of over 800 pages through each machine. This ensures that each and every vote is accurately counted.
Finally, there is no such thing as a perfect election so we must always be ready to anticipate problems and solve them immediately. Knowledge of the law is essential to ensure that each decision abides by the law, and prioritizes fairness.
I am proud of the staff, election officials, and all of the partners in our community who work tirelessly to make successful elections happen for voters in Doña Ana County. I am convinced that we are all making a lasting difference in our community that will transform lives and our future. I will do my best to make every vote count with successful elections, and you can make a difference when you show up every election day and vote. In the words of John F. Kennedy, “One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.”
Krahling is Doña Ana County’s chief deputy clerk and is a Democrat who is running for county clerk this year.