Lawsuit alleging long Election Day lines in Sandoval County will move forward

Updated: 08/26/2014 6:31 PM | Created: 08/26/2014 6:21 PM
By: Kai Porter, KOB Eyewitness News 4

A judge is allowing a lawsuit to move forward that alleged long Election Day lines in Rio Rancho in 2012. The lines were long because of an alleged lack of polling equipment, and the lawsuit demands changes to the way Sandoval County runs elections.

A voter and two candidates who lost in the 2012 general election claim in the lawsuit that thousands of voters were denied their right to vote. Some people allege lines were so long, they just gave up trying to wait.

Some potential Rio Rancho voters were forced to wait up to five hours – a result of the county having just five voting centers for more than 80,000 people.

Sandoval County Clerk Sally Padilla defended her job at the time. "I think I did my job; I've been doing it for many years, and I did my job the best I could," she said.

The lawsuit asks for a series of changes to the way elections are run in Sandoval County, including no fewer than 15 voting convenience centers in Rio Rancho and more ballot printers.

"I can assure you it won't be like it was before," current Sandoval County Clerk Eileen Garbagni said.

Garbagni said changes have already been made. Come November, there will be 17 voting centers and more than three times as many voting machines.

"My goal is to make people happy on Election Day, and they'll be able to get out and vote, and be on their merry way in just a few minutes," Garbagni said.

Last week a judge denied the county's request to have the lawsuit dismissed. During that hearing, the state said county officials took full responsibility for what happened in 2012.

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