People walk into the Bloomfield Cultural Center to vote Tuesday.
People walk into the Bloomfield Cultural Center to vote Tuesday. (Augusta Liddic)
San Juan County Democrats celebrate four more years

FARMINGTON — It seemed as though the room held its breath. All eyes watched the television, then the room erupted in what seemed unabated cheers and applause.

San Juan County Democratic Party members gathered Tuesday evening to celebrate the results of a tough election cycle.

Cheers of “four more years,” echoed around the room at Chef Bernie's restaurant in Farmington after President Barack Obama's reelection was called by MSNBC shortly after 9 p.
Voters make their selections at the Farmington Civic Center polling place Tuesday.
Voters make their selections at the Farmington Civic Center polling place Tuesday. (Jon Austria / Daily Times)
m.

“I'm just ecstatic,” said Franklin Thomas, of Farmington. “We were on pins and needles the last few weeks. (The election) shows that the people have their own voice.” 

The 2012 election cycle united people from all walks of life in San Juan County.

“The important thing is that Barack Obama inspired me to unite everybody who had similar views, and because of that, my life is changed forever,” said Gloria Lehmer, co-manager of the county's Democratic Party Headquarters. “People though that the aura of him was done, but for those of us that believed in him at the beginning, that so many wanted him to fail, we have not wavered in our support of him.”

The election, however, did not go without it's challenges.

Martha Benson, a polling place challenger with the Democratic Party, reported some issues with provisional ballots.

Some voters from the Navajo Nation that came to vote at the voting convenience stations around the county did not understand that they had to vote using provisional ballots, Benson said. 

“I think that the presiding judges did a good job, but maybe the Navajo Nation needs to educate (their citizens) on what a provisional ballot is,” she said. “A lot of people don't realize what a provisional ballot is.” 

— Greg Yee
  

AZTEC - The lowest voter turnout on record was the country's first, held 224 years ago. Aztecians on Election Day were doing their part to ensure that 1788's record-low turnout remained untouched. Steady streams of voters kept two polling places in the city of Aztec busy Tuesday evening.

Asked what advice Aztecians had for president, be it Barack Obama or Mitt Romney, common themes mirrored many regional views of the local electorate. Among them were calls for a stronger allegiance to religion, less reliance on foreign oil, and low taxes.

“Keep taxes down real low,” said John Wolf, 55, of Flora Vista, after casting his ballot at the SJC Fire Operations Center on Oliver Drive. “Put the money back in the people's pockets.”

Wolf's pro-Romney, anti-tax sentiment was echoed by fellow voter John Harris, 49. “We are taxed in so many ways at higher and higher rates,” he said. “And what do we have to show for it?”

Some San Juan County voters decried the nation's loss of direction, citing a faith in God, or a compassionate eye on the downtrodden, as a path of redemption.

“I would like to see free housing for single mothers,” said Kevin Taylor, 45, of Aztec. “They often bear the brunt of the worst treatment by their men, society. Their children need to feel loved and supported.”

“If I could tell the president what matters most,” Manuel Serna, 57, said, beaming after casting his ballot. 
“Ask for guidance - we need leadership.”

“Be honest,” said Fidel Montoya, 34, a worker at Road Runner Truck Wash, in Bloomfield. “Keep your promises - bottom line.”

“The president ought to keep his word,” said Mike Cole, 49, leaving the bustling Oliver Dr. polling place after voting. “I always hear promises, but rarely see any delivered.”

Drilling more national reserves instead of buying oil shipped from overseas was also high up on Aztec voters' priority lists for the next four years.

Asked what ought to be agenda item No. 1 for the next term, Chris Padilla, 35, an oil field worker, was blunt: “Drill here.”

“Do more drilling here,” said Ryan Turner, 31, of Aztec. “We should use our own national resources so we're not beholden to foreign oil.”

At the Aztec Masonic Lodge, a sympathetic voice was heard amid the din of complaints decrying abuses of power or mismanagement of national resources.

San Juan College student and grandmother LeOra Montano, who along with her daughter, Samantha, and 3-month-old granddaughter Analynn-Cruz, spoke as if counseling a student through final exams. “Take it one day at a time,” she said, bouncing her smiling granddaughter in her lap. “It's obviously not an easy job. Breathe.”

— James Fenton

Few polling place problems in county
FARMINGTON — San Juan County polling places reported few problems Tuesday afternoon.

County Clerk Debbie Holmes reported a voter turnout of 12,750 as of 4:10 p.m. 

The total turnout since early voting began on Oct. 20 has risen to 38,629, she said.

In Farmington, the public library recorded the highest turnout with 1,258 voters as of 4:10 p.m. The Farmington Museum at Gateway Park recorded the second highest turnout with 811 voters, she said.

Although the library and museum reported particularly long lines, polling place operations has been running smoothly, Holmes said.

“There were small problems, but nothing major,” she said.

To check wait times at the polls, go to the County Clerk's website: http://www.sjcounty.net/component/content/article/473

— Greg Yee


FARMINGTON — Most San Juan County polling places were reporting no wait Tuesday.

The longest wait was at Farmington Museum, where the wait was reported at 30 minutes as of 2 p.m. The wait was down to about 10 minutes by 3 p.m., voters said.

Ten-minute waits were reported at Aztec Masonic Lodge, Pinon Hills Community Church, Farmington Public Library and Brooks/Isham Performing Arts Center in Kirtland.

Others, including McGee Park, Sycamore Park Community Center and the Farmington Civic Center, reported no wait.

Updated wait times are available on the county clerk's website: http://www.sjcclerk.net/

Today marks the first time the San Juan County Clerk's Office is using the Voting Convenience Center model for a presidential election. Voters are not tied to a precinct and can vote at any of the 23 centers in the county.

The format was first used in the June primary.

Voters on Tuesday said they liked the format.

"It's a great idea," said Kris Reinhardt, 54, who cast her ballot at Farmington Museum. "You can go to whatever's closest to you."

More than 1,000 people had voted at the Farmington Public Library by 2:30 p.m., said Gordon Glass, presiding judge at that location.

Voting has gone smoothly, except for a brief period when computer crashes caused the line to lengthen, he said.

"It's gone well," Glass said.

— Chuck Slothower

Sign vandalism continues up to eve of the election

FARMINGTON — The San Juan County Democratic Party reported more sign theft and vandalism in the days leading up to Election Day.
These incidents come six days after a Farmington couple was arrested on suspicion of DWI and vandalizing signs.
Only four large campaign signs remain undamaged and all are posted outside Farmington city limits, said Gordon Glass, a volunteer with the Democratic Party.
“We have experienced continued theft of the larger Obama signs over the past couple of days,” he said.
A sign at Browning Parkway and Wildflower Drive was taken over the weekend, said Gloria Lehmer, co-manager for the San Juan County Democratic Party headquarters.
“It had totally vanished,” she said. “It was gone, boards, wood frame and all. Another sign for a Republican candidate was put nearby.”
Lehmer estimates that hundreds of yard signs and large campaign signs have been stolen or vandalized since June.
“I have reported these (thefts) to the police non emergency line,” she said. “I plan on keeping track of this situation.”
— Greg Yee

We'll be updating our coverage of Election Day throughout the evening. Check back online and get full results in tomorrow's Daily Times.