By M. Benevento
Last Saturday (10/17) when early voting began, I heard from two different friends – we’ll call them C and D – reporting a large and noisy crowd of Trump supporters who came very close to interfering with people’s access to a nearby South Valley voting site. Parked along both sides of the road, just beyond the legally required distance, the Trumpers were waving signs and flags and yelling about “Freedom to wear NO mask!” Anyone going to vote had to pass through this gauntlet.
When she came out from dropping off her absentee ballot, C felt sufficiently threatened to dial 911. “I wish I had made videos,” she said. “There was nowhere to park, and all these older people were waiting in line, having to witness this.”
D went home and sent out an email letting family, friends, and neighbors know what he’d observed: “At least 100 [in the Trump group]. I saw no one carrying guns, but it was still an intimidating presence.”
Just a few days later, on Wednesday morning (10/21), I went to vote in person. In company with a pandemic pod buddy, I was ready to endure a ruckus if necessary – but am glad to say there was no problem finding a parking place, no wait in line, no Trump-inspired demonstration, no presence of any type other than everyday New Mexicans going about the business of democracy.
Maybe the Trumpers’ noisemaking on the first day of early voting was a one-off – we can hope so. Better yet, volunteer as a Democratic Poll Challenger/Observer (see VOTE America, just below), and help protect voters’ rights. And/orcall the DPNM hotline to report voter intimidation wherever you see it happening: 1-833-NM4DEMS // 1-833-664-3367.
People are now voting in record numbers. Be among them. Mail in that absentee ballot. Vote early in person. Line up on November 3, if that’s what you prefer. But whatever you do, don’t let anyone stop you making your voice heard.