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Western New Mexico University junior Madison Fries cast her ballot during early voting on Tuesday morning. It feels good to have an impact on who runs our country, said Fries, who was voting for the first time.

SILVER CITY — Every vote counts, and some Grant County residents made theirs count early on Tuesday.

More 300 people visited the Grant County Clerk's Office to cast their ballots on Tuesday, the first day of early and absentee voting. It was also the last day to register to vote in the Nov. 6 general election.

A total of 319 people cast their ballots on Tuesday, according to Grant County Clerk Robert Zamarripa.

"We actually had people waiting outside our door at eight o'clock (Tuesday) morning," he said. "And we just processed the last voter at 5 p.m. It was a steady flow of people all day."

The number of people who voted early Tuesday is much higher than the number of folks who voted early on the first day of the June primary. The first day of early voting in June saw only 50 people vote.

The Grant County Clerk's Office is encouraging people to vote early. Not only will it help them avoid lines on election day, but it can be helpful if a voter has questions.

"If you come in early, you can ask questions and speak to me and the staff," Zamarripa said. "You may not be able to do that if you wait until Nov. 6 with how busy it can be."

Students from WNMU professor Magdaleno Manzanarez's class were given the choice to vote or take the day off. Manzanarez and 13 of his students from his National American Government class boarded a free Corre Caminos Voter Express bus that took them to the Grant County Administration Building for early voting Tuesday morning.

"I told my students last week about the free service and asked them who wanted to vote today," Manzanarez said. "Instead of spending an hour in a classroom, which is important, this is putting theory into practice."

The Grant County Democratic Party is sponsoring the free Voter Express bus, which will run again on the morning of Oct. 16 and the afternoons of this Thursday and Oct. 18. Registered voters, regardless of party, are welcome to ride the bus. Voters need to reserve their seat 24 hours in advance, and can request at-home pickup by calling Corre Caminos at (575) 388-3180.

"The university students packed our 10 a.m. bus," said Linda Ortiz, interim office manager at Corre Caminos. "We had three buses dedicated to the voters on Tuesday. I think the number of people will increase as more people find out about the free service."

More than a dozen people, mostly students from Western, used the service on Tuesday.

"The students were very excited to vote," Manzanarez said. "For some, it was their first time voting. I want them to be aware of how significant voting is."

WNMU junior Madison Fries was one of the students voting for the first time.

"It feels good to have an impact on who runs our country," the criminal justice and psychology double-major said. "If you don't vote, you don't have the right to complain about how the country's being run. It's your loss if you don't take advantage of the opportunity."

Early voting continues through Nov. 3. Registered voters can vote early at the Grant County Clerk's Office, inside the Grant County Administration Building, 1400 Highway 180 E. from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and on Saturday Nov. 3.

"It's good to get it out of the way if you early vote," Zamarripa said. "You won't have to worry about being here on Nov. 6 and dealing with the crowds."

Absentee ballot applications can be downloaded at www.grantcountynm.com and mailed to P.O. Box 898 Silver City, NM 88061. An absentee ballot can also be filled out at the Grant County Administration Building.

For more information on absentee ballots and early voting, call the Grant County Clerk's office at (575) 574-0042.

If you go:

What: Early voting started Tuesday and runs through Nov. 3

Where: Grant County Clerk's Office, 1400 Highway 180 E., Silver City

When: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and Saturday Nov. 3

Early voting begins in Bayard on Oct. 20.

Where: Bayard Community Center, 209 Hurley Ave., Bayard

When: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Oct. 20, 23-27 and Oct. 30 -Nov. 3.

Information: Call the Grant County Clerk's Office at (575) 574-0042.

Daniel Laverty can be reached at (575) 538-5893 ext. 5803.