Watchful eyes

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Poll watchers will be present at this year's primary election in Curry County to catch any voting discrepancies. Roosevelt County Clerk Janet Collins said there are no poll watchers for Roosevelt County but she would gladly welcome any who might come.

Local county clerks agree that poll watchers are a good thing when it comes to voter confidence.

With the general election approaching Nov. 6, New Mexico is beginning to train poll watchers . Poll watchers are individuals certified through the New Mexico secretary of state to observe voting polls in certain counties to make sure there are no discrepancies, according to Roosevelt County Clerk Janet Collins, who said such discrepancies could include election officials giving a voter two ballots or a voter being given a ballot despite not being a registered voter.

"Generally, we don't have any problem with them, because we do everything right and by the book," she said of Roosevelt County. "In the past they've gotten bored and gone home after a couple of hours."

Collins said poll watchers have to be registered voters within the county. They have rules and regulations to follow, such as not being allowed to make any contact with voters or interact with the voting process in any way.

She said although Roosevelt County has had poll watchers several times in the past, it will not have any for the upcoming primary election in November.

Curry County Clerk Connie Lyman said Curry County will have poll watchers, assigned by the state, for this primary.

She said presidential elections are usually the only type of election the county has poll watchers.

"We've never had any kind of problems with them. We welcome them," Lyman said of the watchers. "It just keeps the honest people honest, so I don't have a problem with them at all."

She said in her 27 years working with the county, she has not been aware of any election discrepancies reported for Curry County.

"I have wonderful polling officials and that shows when they're there," Lyman said. "I think it's just to keep a check and balance on the system and I think that's important for voter confidence. They need to know it's going like it's supposed to go."

Collins agreed that the system of poll watchers gives voters confidence that elections are being handled appropriately.

"They are always welcome to come," Collins said of poll watchers. "We follow all the rules so we don't care. They just need to check what they can and can't do."

Collins said any Roosevelt County registered voters who are interested in becoming poll watchers can talk to her for information on how to become certified or visit the secretary of state's website.

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