The time to vote
In the midst of the pandemic and the anticipation of a partial re-opening of the state this weekend, its important to remember that these and many other matters that impact our daily lives will be driven and managed in the coming year by our elected officials. For many of us, this makes voting in the upcoming June primary election a personal as well as a political action, and makes voter participation more important than ever.
If you are already registered to vote, you can vote by absentee ballot. Begin by searching for your voter registration through the New Mexico Secretary of State voter information portal. Once your information is retrieved and confirmed to be correct, you can fill out an absentee ballot application . To complete the application, you must confirm your identity by providing driver’s license and social security numbers. Your absentee ballot will then be mailed to you by the local county clerk.
The deadline for submitting an application for an absentee ballot is May 28th.. The deadline for returning a completed absentee ballot is June 2. According to a March press release from the New Mexico Secretary of State, “All absentee ballots may be returned … to the voter’s County Clerk’s Office, or at an alternative voting location … or any Election Day polling location….” Due to the timeframe, we recommend that you do not mail in your ballot but that you physically deliver your absentee ballot to one of these locations.
The following sites are eligible to receive absentee ballots in San Miguel County:
Saturday May 30th, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Deliver to office or drop in red ballot box outside the office.
Saturday May 16th, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Drop in absentee box during early voting hours.
Vote Early, Register Soon
You can vote early at either the San Miguel County Clerk’s office or at the Ribera Cultural Center alternate voting site. Early voting is available on the same days and at the same times as listed above.
If you need to register to vote, or to correct your voter registration information, you can visit the San Miguel County Clerk’s office, where you can register in person or correct/update your registration. You may register to vote or update your registration until 6:00 p.m. on Saturday May 30th.
If you choose this option, you will also be able to “vote early” within 30 minutes of registering or making changes to your voter registration information.
Yesterday afternoon’s press conference on the coronavirus from New Mexico Governor Lujan-Grisham highlighted new orders impacting all New Mexicans and addressed plans for the first phase of reopening the economy. The new orders will go into effect on Saturday 16 May, though the governor emphasized that all steps for partial re-opening remain contingent on the state continuing to meet the criteria indicating it is safe to do so.
The press conference provided new information about the virus, including updates on cases and spread statewide, as well as comparative data by county and region. Information was also given about “superspreader” events and the new research regarding the different symptoms the virus manifests in children.
The following are key points from the presentation regarding statewide changes for the Phase 1 partial re-opening.
You can review key slides from the press conference here, or watch the full webcast on the governor’s Facebook page. (You will need to advance 7 minutes or so before the live video begins.)
The conversation in relation to the pandemic has shifted towards issues of re-opening, and to consideration of the economic challenges faced by businesses, communities, and different regions of the state. One of the largest economic hurdles New Mexico now faces is the impact that the COVID-19 virus has had on the tourism sector in New Mexico. Statewide, tourism numbers are down dramatically, and are likely to remain suppressed for some time. As hotels and restaurants continue to work with reduced capacity and social distancing restrictions, and more statewide events are cancelled, such as the Santa Fe Opera and Chamber Music Festival, tourism numbers will continue to be impacted. While many businesses rush to build their online presence and emphasize items that can be marketed remotely, those products and services that depend on tourism seem be facing fewer options in a critically contracting tourist industry.
However, there is another side to the tourism story: regional, driving-based tourism may still prosper, as low gas prices and a willingness to travel locally in personal vehicles may encourage travel for many this summer. New Mexico businesses and communities can respond to this shift by targeting travelers from nearby states and promoting outdoor activities or scenic driving routes. Local services can be expanded to include the amenities needed to support these individualized, outdoor activities, such as picnic supplies, thermoses of coffee, boxed meals, and self-guided “niche” tours.
Businesses can also work together to encourage social distancing and simultaneously leverage a more “distributed” shopping experience to advantage. Small shops can provide attractive outside seating in “waiting areas” that offer water or lemonade and also showcase products or provide incentives. Communities can consider creating small, open-market settings in public spaces that provide small, pop-up style venues for businesses on a limited or rotating schedule. This accommodation to best practices during the pandemic can build a positive business climate overall by creating interesting alternatives to the traditional “store to store” shopping atmosphere, alternatives that may enable greater customer engagement and generate higher levels of interest, loyalty, and repeat sales.
For more discussion and ideas about sustaining your business and the local economy during the pandemic, register for the free webinar this Thursday 14 May at 2:15 – 3:15 p.m. “Beyond Bricks and Mortar: Alternatives to the Traditional Building/Customer Relationship,” hosted by the New Mexico Economic Development Department and New Mexico Main Street. An additional video conference, “Beat the Virus” Roundtable, will be held Friday 15 May, 10:15 – 11:45. You can contact firstname.lastname@example.org for login details.
COVID-19 impact continues
During the past few weeks, New Mexicans have adapted to the changes that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought. The results of our adjustments give us much to celebrate – while cases of infection statewide continue to increase, many counties have seen steady declines in the rate of growth and the number of deaths statewide has remained relatively low. New Mexico continued to receive national attention as a leader in its response to the outbreak and for the state’s ongoing effort to make drive by testing widely available to everyone. This will put New Mexico ahead of the curve in tracking future spread of the disease, and make it better able to manage re-opening efforts with reliable data on regional infection rates. Thus, even as new requirements for facemasks are enacted (masks are now required by workers in essential businesses statewide and in all public places in Las Vegas), even as we recognize the devastation the virus continues to wreak on tribal communities, many feel guardedly hopeful as they look ahead to the gradual, partial openings that may occur later this month if the curve begins to flatten. We all share this need to feel hopeful – for an opportunity, for a foothold that will re-establish our lives on even a small patch of familiar ground.
Finding positive ground
While that ground we reclaim may be familiar in some ways, it is equally clear to all of us that our lives will not return to what they were before. Social interactions will remain restricted for a long time – possibly years - and the ways in which we pursue the daily activities of work, education, business, and pleasure will continue to shift and change. This has led us all to consider how we can plan for and adjust to these upcoming changes, even though their exact nature remains unclear. The El Valle Community Center is adjusting as well, and expects to be guided by three key goals during the coming year.
Provide community information
Much of what we have learned in the last two months is how much we all rely on access to timely, reliable, open information, not only about the virus itself and the responses to it, but also about how to manage the overlapping emotions associated with the adjustment, isolation, anxiety, and uncertainty that have been so prevalent. Harvard’s Coronavirus Series notes that reliable communication, which addresses the full range of difficulties facing communities during the pandemic, is essential for helping people navigate these difficult events. El Valle Community Center will provide carefully vetted, knowledge-based information during the coming year, through this newsletter and through the resources available at the Villanueva Library.
Build digital Inclusion
As a result of the pandemic, many work-related tasks and almost all of education have moved onto online platforms. This has made access to high speed internet and reliable computing devices, and the support needed to develop effective digital skills, more important than ever. Over the coming year, we can expect this focus on digital platforms and skills to increase. This makes the need for “digital inclusion,” providing online access, computing equipment, and digital skills, to all New Mexicans, all the more critical. The Center will work to build digital inclusion for the local community and regions throughout the coming year.
Celebrate community, culture, and tradition
El Valle Community Center has a long history of showcasing the community, culture and traditions that are the backbone of the region and embody its unique beauty and spirit. While social distancing guidelines and limits on gatherings will not make it possible to celebrate in person, the center will continue to value, promote, and showcase these essential elements of the community through online resources and, when possible, through allowable, individual, socially distanced activities.
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