This is a tale of perplexity and persistence. More than a decade ago, when I purchased my first home and moved to Barelas, I registered to vote, wanting to do my civic duty and wanting to have my say about matters close to home. I read all of the election literature I received, including the newsletters sent out by the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District
, and was ever so disappointed when I showed up for my first election and was turned away because I was not eligible to vote.
They told me I did not live in the district.
I was a bit perplexed, since I was getting MRGCD literature and I knew that my neighbors voted, but I accepted this at face value and walked away. (Having a toddler on my hip and a slightly older child holding my hand meant I wasn't likely to linger).
A few years later, I tried again, since it was an election I really wanted to vote in and I knew that my neighbor, who lived just slightly closer to the river (3 houses closer, to be exact), was voting. So I contacted the MRGCD, asked, and got the same response: Not In The District.
In addition to my almost daily stroll along the banks of the Rio Grande, which is a scant 5 minutes walk from my front door, I had other reasons to be interested in the rio. At that time, my family was heavily involved with an awesome children's peer education program called River Rangers. Among other things, we monitored two BEMP
sites, checking water table, rainfall, and litterfall values. So we were a wee bit more involved and aware of politics and policy re: the Rio Grande than your average voter.
We went to MRGCD meetings and worked alongside members of the Army Corps of Engineers and UNM field biologists. Heck, I even knew the history of the founding
of the MRGCD and the site of its first flood control levees.
I was really disappointed the second time I checked into the district boundaries, but I assumed we must be just a hair outside the district boundaries, despite having a house that was in an area that flooded repeatedly long ago.
(In Barelas sighting pre-flood and post-flood 19th century homes is easy - just check to see if the home has an elevated foundation. The really old homes
in the neighborhood along Barelas Road (circa 1830 would be my guess) have next-to-no-rise in the foundation. Those built in the railroad section of Barelas (circa 1880) tend to have elevated foundations.)
Yesterday I received yet another notice
of a MRGCD election
. I was about to toss it in the recycling bin, when I noticed that my name on the mailing label was ordered wrong (middle, last, first). In the interests of conserving paper and saving the taxpayer money and all that jazz, I picked up the phone and called the Election Director listed on page 2, planning to ask him to take me off their mailing list.
He told me to call the Election Officer, who is also listed on page 2. And so I did, leaving a message for her to call me back.
In the five short minutes between leaving my message and getting a return call from the Election Officer, I decided to check out the MRGCD website. Just for fun, I decided to look up the boundaries of the district, expecting to see a line somewhere between my neighbor's house and my own.
My house is smackdab in the middle of the MRGCD!
Lest you bawl me out for not checking this earlier, remember that 14 years ago these maps were not available online.
And I figured that perhaps the boundaries had changed recently.
So when the very nice and very professional Election Officer called me back (very promptly, I might add), I asked her whether the boundaries had indeed changed.
Now, I could take umbrage at the fact that I had been denied my civil rights and so forth, but that's all water under the bridge now, eh? (Get it? WATER under the bridge?)
But I won't.
Instead, I will urge you all to take a good look at this map
and see if you are inside or outside the district. (Note - this is especially important if you live within easy walking distance of the river, as I do).
If you do, and you plan to vote on June 2 and you have not voted in the MRGCD elections before, do as the Elections Officer suggested and bring both a photo ID and a copy of your tax bill. You may not need it, but it might be helpful. Here's a link
to voting locations.