Letter to Torrance County Clerk about closed polling locations

April 24, 2022

Yvonne Otero
Torrance County Clerk
Torrance County, NM

Re: Closing of Polling Locations in Tajique and Manzano

Dear Ms. Otero:

We have been informed of the closing of polling locations in Tajique and Manzano and write this letter to ask you to reconsider this decision. Among our concerns are the fact that these are traditional, long-standing polling places for the voters in and around these villages, as well as Punta de Agua, and the closure of these locations will have a chilling effect on the voter turnout.
As you know the dissemination of information in Torrance County is difficult. Newspaper and radio coverage of governmental actions in the county is spotty at best. In addition, many of the residents, especially older residents, of the mountain and land grant areas lack adequate internet service. Because of this, many of the citizens of the county are unaware of the closure of these polling venues. We are concerned that voters who have cast their votes at these locations for their entire lives will go to their traditional polling places only to find out for the first time that they have been closed. Many may not have adequate transportation to then travel to Torreon to cast their vote or be otherwise unable to travel to a new site miles away. Others may become upset or angry and just refuse to travel to Torreon.
In addition, even if they are informed prior to election day, many of the residents in these areas will perceive this action as an infringement on their community identity and choose not to be forced into another community to cast their vote.
The net result will be voter suppression, whether intended or not. This action in a time when citizen participation in our democracy is at its greatest need doesn’t make sense.
On behalf of the residents of the impacted communities, we beseech you to reconsider this decision and maintain those traditional locations.
Very truly yours,
Dennis K. Wallin, Chair
Democratic Party of Torrance County


‘Raising the alert about a major fire hazard’

This is to once again raise the alert to a major fire hazard effecting the town of Mountainair.

the U.S. Forest Service holds several hundred acres of juniper-piñon forest, just west of Mountainair, abutting on the town. This land is overgrown with trees and deadfall, and has not been thinned in ages. Since the prevailing winds are from the west and southwest, this dense short forest (10 to 15 ft. high) constitutes a major fire threat to Mountainair. I have asked the local fire chief, and the rangers at the Mountainair office to please do something about it. I have named this issue in the press, by means of a letter to the editor. Nothing has been done.

I know how devastating a fire can be, as I lost my home and everything in it to a fire in downtown Mountainair a little over four years ago. I did not see any mention of this hazard, located as it is on federal land, or anything being planned or done to mitigate it. is there anything anyone can do about it, at the federal, state, county or local level? Thank you for reading my letter, and let’s all follow the sound advice put forward in your fine article on fire safety.

James Walton, Mountainair