ActivePaper Archive Hobbs council reviews voter convenience plan - Hobbs News Sun, 2011-11-08

Hobbs council reviews voter convenience plan

Voters in Hobbs may no longer face a confusing series of district and precinct numbers to determine where to vote.

City commissioners approved a tentative plan during Monday’s meeting that would allow all voters inside the city to use any of three polling locations — City Hall Annex, the Lea County Office Complex or the Teen Center.

City clerk Jan Fletcher said the voter convenience plan removes several polling places in public schools and allows any voter from any district to vote in any of the polling locations.

“We believe this could alleviate some of the confusion for voters,” she said during the meeting.

Hobbs usually has about a half-dozen polling locations in several neighborhoods — many in public schools.

County clerk Pat Chappelle, who attended Monday’s meeting, said as school districts become more safety-conscious and less open to allowing strange adults wander their campuses, the days of voting in schools could be over.

Chappelle said the county is considering a similar model to alleviate voter confusion and, hopefully, encourage more voters to participate in elections.

Fletcher said the change would take effect for the March 2012 elections, but would only be in effect for municipal elections.

The city is planning an advertising blitz to inform voters of the change, she said.

Commissioner Jonathan Sena, who is running for reelection in 2012, said he hopes residents will not be deterred by polling location changes.

“It’s tough to get people to vote as it is, if there’s a change, it can be tougher to get people to come out to vote,” he said. Fletcher said custom ballots would be printed on demand as a voter checks in to a polling place. After voting, software on the voting system would update at each site, meaning a voter could not go from location to location to vote more than once, she said.

Absentee and early voting will remain unchanged.

Fletcher said the three proposed locations are large enough to handle the number of potential voters.

The three-location plan will be voted on during the next City Commission meeting.

Hobbs has about 14,000 registered voters.

In other business, the commission:

• Recognized Missy Funk as the city’s employee of the month. Funk works in the Animal Adoption Center.

Adoption center director Willie Stone said Funk is a valuable resource and helps update the city’s database of adoption statistics as well as pets picked up by animal control officers.

“She is a multi-tasking machine,” Stone said. “She can assist our customers and most importantly, the pets they love.”

• Condemned buildings at 1113 N. Steven, 1700 N. Chama, 618 E. Snyder, 1601 E. Dunnam and 1300 S. Farquhar.

Property owners are able to contest the condemnations.

• Approved a $2.4 million bid to Lasco Construction of Hobbs to build a new pro shop and clubhouse at Ocotillo Golf Course.