Portales voters approved Sunday restaurant alcohol sales by a narrow margin in a referendum Tuesday.
The final total was 311-278 for allowing sales of alcohol on Sunday at local restaurants.
Election officials described the flow of voters as steady most of the day, but only a fraction of the city’s 6,007 registered voters ended up casting ballots.
Thirty-four Portales residents voted within the first two hours with votes increasing to 118 halfway through the day.
“It’s been slow and easy but we’ve been busy,” said voting judge Judy Terry.
The single question on the ballot: “Shall ‘Sunday Liquor Sales in Licensed Restaurants’ be allowed within the local option district of the City of Portales?”
Some early voters interviewed were against the ordinance, such as residents Lorene Robertson and Eva Green.
“We need to honor the Lord’s day,” Green said.
“We’ve got enough problems with DWIs in this state,” said resident Dennis Webb. “If people want to drink, they can buy it Saturday night. They don’t need to drink and drive. Hopefully, this will keep them off the road one day.”
Webb said he does not like special elections “where people are trying to push something.”
Dina Ortega, who voted for the Sunday liquor sales, had a different opinion.
“If you don’t want to drink then don’t go buy the beer,” Ortega said. “Buy a Coke. Like the man on the radio said, no one’s forcing you to buy.”
The flow of voters increased after 4 p.m. and ballots cast had jumped to 234 at 5 p.m. with two hours until poll closing.
Close to 5 p.m., voting clerks and judges said they did not expect total votes to reach 500.
There was a mix of voter opinion with afternoon voters interviewed at the poll.
“I think the less alcohol we have distributed, the better,” said Sarah Victor, who voted against the ordinance. “People are going to do what they want to, but we don’t need to encourage the drinking.”
Jared Reeves shared a different opinion, saying he voted for the sales.
“I don’t think we should tell people how to run their businesses,” Reeves said. “And it’s legal pretty much everywhere else in the state.”
Jason Kapera had a similar opinion.
“Since this is for businesses, it’s mainly helping businesses out,” Kapera said. “If I want to go to a business and have a drink or two, that’s my prerogative. To me, it doesn’t matter what day it is, whether Wednesday or Sunday.”