AUGUST 10, 2006


Attending:  María Sylva-Sutton & Lynn Ellins, Co-Chairs; Judy Baker, Sid Goddard, Vicki Harder, Connie Lee, David Lutz, Melinda Whitley, Felicia Ybarra.  Absent:  Bob Hearn, Volunteer Secretary.  Co-Chair Sylva-Sutton volunteered to keep minutes in his absence.


Panelists reviewed this past Saturday’s public meeting at Sunland Park.  Co-Chair Ellins characterized the encounter as “cozy and informal.”  Election Day concerns are different in Sunland Park than in the rest of the county, panelists concluded, since election laws established for the state seem to be ignored there more frequently. Judy Baker suggested that large posters with the pertinent election laws be posted prominently at all polling sites as an aide to both poll workers and the public.  Panelists agreed that the use of a sign-up sheet for those who wanted to speak was efficacious.


Discussion then turned to whether the Panel should interview County Clerk Torres, Deputy Clerk Madrid, and former Elections Supervisor Mari Langford.  Each panelist expressed arguments pro or con.  Consensus: 3 panel members, the co-chairs and Felicia Ybarra should interview Torres and Madrid.  The County Clerk and her deputy will be invited to present to these panel members their view of the most urgent needs of the Clerk’s office and Bureau of Elections and make suggestions for improvement in election procedures. The focus will be on future improvement rather than on previous elections. The Co-chairs will compose a written invitation to these County officials.


Because Mari Langford’s legal position with the county has not yet been clarified, an interview with her is still “an open question,” in the words of Co-Chair Ellins.


Panelists then proceeded to a discussion of emerging trends observed in their work to date.  David Lutz presented copies of his own written assessment of these trends. At the moment, major concerns seem to be the need for more extensive training for poll workers, election bureau staff, AND the public.  Panelist Goddard revealed that he’d had 3 calls just this week regarding constantly changing polling sites.  (In that part of the discussion focused on the need for greater communication between the Election Bureau and the public, Panelist Whitley pointed out that voters also need to accept responsibility for knowing the location of their polling places.)  Co-Chair Ellins also pointed to the need for more poll worker trainers and a revised management strategy for the Bureau. 


The rest of the panelists will bring their own written statements to the next meeting.  These statements will then be collated and combined as a major part of a coherent presentation for the County Commissioners in the final report.


Panelists made final arrangements for the public meeting on Saturday in Hatch and the last public meeting in Las Cruces on the following Tuesday evening.


Vicki Harder and María Sylva-Sutton reported on conversations with County Clerks in Alamogordo and Santa Fe.  Both clerks agreed to confer with the Panel via telephone conference.  These teleconferences will take place at the next meeting, so consensus was that the meeting should begin at 3:00 p.m. rather than at 4:00 to give the Panel time for additional business.

Johnnie R. Aldrich

LWV of Greater Las Cruces