Watchdog group cites interference at polls in Latino areas

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Dell Weston, left, holds out his hands to receive hand sanitizer from a poll worker at the fair grounds early voting center on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020, in Santa Fe, N.M. Weston, a retired artist and metalworker, said he's a Republican plans to vote for Trump. He came for a sample ballot so that he could research down-ballot candidates and issues before he votes in person in the coming weeks. (AP Photo/Cedar Attanasio)

SANTA FE, N.M. – A voting rights group says that caravans of flag-waving President Donald Trump supporters appeared to obstruct and intimidate voters at two polling location in predominantly ethnic-minority neighborhoods last weekend in the Albuquerque area.

Common Cause New Mexico Executive Director Heather Ferguson said Wednesday that the incidents took place early Saturday afternoon on the first day of balloting at voter convenience centers in the South Valley and western reaches of Albuquerque on Central Avenue — areas that are heavily Latino.

She estimated that dozens of potential voters in each location left without voting immediately as a result of the incidents. But she added that a poll judge intervened at the Central Avenue voting center to help ensure access and keep electioneering at a distance.

“I think we got to see that the process is working,” Ferguson said.

The Bernalillo County district attorney’s office is investigating the incidents, agency spokeswoman Brandale Mills-Cox said. She declined further comment.

State Republican Party spokesman Mike Curtis said he has no direct knowledge of the matter. Representatives for the Trump reelection campaign had no immediate comment when contacted.

State statute prohibits electioneering within 100 feet (30 meters) of a polling place, approaching a voter within 50 feet (15 meters) of poll doors or blocking access in any way.

Based on witness accounts and recorded images, Ferguson said a group of about 50 slow-moving, tightly spaced cars interfered with public access as they drove close by a polling location on Central Avenue. She said a poll judge diffused the situation by informing demonstrators of state restrictions on electioneering and interference.