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Elderly couple takes ambulance to the polls

Robert Moses, 86, hasn't missed voting in an election since he was a teen, and wasn't about to break that record

By Robert Nott
The Santa Fe New Mexican

SANTE FE, N.M. — Don’t tell Robert Moses you have a valid reason for not voting. The 86-year-old, legally blind, wheelchair-bound Santa Fean was so determined to cast his ballot that he actually had an ambulance pick him up after he voted at Chaparral Elementary School around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday.

“This is a democracy, and a lot of countries don’t permit the same voting rights,” he said as the ambulance pulled up to give a ride to him and his wife, Agnes, 88, after they voted. “It’s time for people to wake up.”

He said he had never missed an election since he was a teen, and that’s partly because his father, the late John Moses, served as both governor and senator in North Dakota.

By the time final, unofficial numbers for Santa Fe County were posted late Tuesday night, totals in key Democratic primary races indicated the voter turnout was only slightly higher than in 2010, when Diane Denish was running uncontested for the gubernatorial nomination. About 29 percent of eligible Democrats had cast ballots Tuesday, compared to just under 24 percent in 2010. Roughly 11 percent of eligible voters registered as Republicans had cast ballots in Santa Fe County.

Statewide in the 2010 primary election — the last gubernatorial election in New Mexico — 135,965 Democrats and 122,649 Republicans cast ballots. About 24 percent of registered Democrats cast ballots and 34 percent of Republicans. GOP turnout was up significantly because of a hotly contested gubernatorial race, which was won by Susana Martinez. Turnout was expected to be higher this year, with five Democrats running for governor. Statewide totals were not immediately available Tuesday night.

A man who identified himself only as Jim said he was the fourth person to vote during the 15 minutes after the polls opened at the Fort Marcy Recreation Complex. “It’s important to vote, especially when you want to change things,” he said. He was for Gary King in the governor’s race because “I think he has the best chance to unseat the current governor.”

King may benefit from name recognition, said Republican JoAnn Eastham Tapia, who spent the day driving registered seniors from both the Democratic and Republican camps to voting locales within Santa Fe. She said many of the Democrats told her they were voting for King because of that familiarity with the name. “Some of them think it’s Bruce,” she said, referring to Gary’s late father, a former governor.

She didn’t care who would win the right to run against Martinez but said, “I hope it’s the easiest one for [incumbent Gov. Susana Martinez] to beat.”

Webber, who showed up at Fort Marcy around 7:30 a.m. to greet voters, said he was feeling confident about his success but predicted it will be a late night for those awaiting results in that race, given there are five candidates.

The Santa Fe County Clerk’s Office reported a couple of problems by 10:30 a.m. At Ramirez Thomas Elementary School, voters in Precinct 37 discovered that the machines would not accept Democratic ballots for a while. The problem was fixed by midmorning, according to County Clerk Geraldine Salazar.

Presiding judges at that site said that as of 11:45 a.m., 55 voters had cast ballots there.

As of Monday, about 47,300 Democrats and 29,950 Republicans had already cast absentee or early votes, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.

In Santa Fe, 5,042 Democrats and 548 Republicans already had cast absentee or early ballots by Saturday. According to the County Clerk’s Office, 62,243 Democrats and 16,443 Republicans were eligible to vote in Tuesday’s primary election. Voters who register as independents or “declined to state” cannot vote in primary elections.

Roy Padilla, who backed Gus Martinez in the Santa Fe County assessor’s race, said his 1941 Dodge Harvester truck was attracting more voters than Martinez on Tuesday. Padilla sat by the truck, which was decorated with American flags and military and patriotic symbols, as well as a Martinez campaign sign, outside the Chavez Center. He said most people passing by were stopping to talk about the truck, not politics.

Padilla, an Army veteran who served during the Korea and OVERSET FOLLOWS:Vietnam wars, said he got an offer for $30,000 for the truck Tuesday. He won’t sell. But, given the interest in the vehicle, he said the state should have found a way to put it on the ballot in one of the races.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service
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