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Truth or Consequences, NM October 20: At the close of business Monday, Sierra County Clerk Shelly Trujillo reported 1780 early votes had been cast. She followed up that 1703 absentee ballots had been mailed to voters. The total, 3483, represents 43% of the 8,100 registered voters who are currently engaged in voting. In Sierra's sister county to the West, Grant County: out of the 20,590 registered voters, they already had 4,074 people lined up to early vote, stated Clerk Marisa Castrillo in a phone call. As of last Saturday, October 17, Grant County opened a second early voting site at the Bayard Community Center open 9am to 6 pm Tuesday through Saturday. This is in addition to voting at the Clerk's office at 1400 Highway 180 East in Silver City from 8a.m. to 5 p.m.Monday through Friday. With still two more full weeks of early voting the brisk pace of people lining up to vote reflects a far greater turnout than usual.

On November 3, Election Day, Grant County will have five sites open for voting from 7am to 7pm. Check their locations on the website: https://grantcountynm.gov/elected-officials/clerk/elections/. Sierra County has eight sites in communities throughout the county for Election day voting, however they are not listed on their website.

But not all is tranquil in the election process in Southwest NM. A friend checking his parents' mailbox in the county sub-division at Champaign Hills discovered the entire mailbox structure stolen during the weekend of Oct 10-11. He suspected that his parents absentee ballots were in their box at the time. A call to the main post office confirmed this theft, which is a federal offense. All mail to the sub-division is currently being held at the Main Post Office on Date Street. The post delivery woman who runs the mail out to Champaign Hills described how a person had tried to break into someone's box. She thought since that failed, they then came and stole the entire mailbox complex. The structure is the size of a large refrigerator.

In Grant County the Democratic Party's virtual zoom meeting was hacked by Trump supporters on Wednesday October 14. Lt. Governor Howie Morales and two Representatives, Ben Ray Lujan, running for Senate, and Xochitl Torres Small, running a tight race for re-election in CD02, covering the Southern two thirds of the largely rural state, were attending the meeting. The hacker(s), supporters of Trump showing swastikas took charge of party chairman Matt Runnell's computer and controlled the zoom meeting for over an hour throwing out racial and transphobic slurs. Police were called in. When they arrived, the main hacker, a young man said, “Oh, you've called the police.” He promptly then mooned the crowd and turned frontward again and started masturbating.

In excellent reporting on the incident [ https://searchlightnm.org/intruders-holding-handmade-signs-with-swastikas-racial-slurs-disrupt-democratic-party-zoom-meeting/ ], reporters Mike Kessler and Dillon Bergin, in Searchlight New Mexico wrote: “The Zoom chat was overloaded with the racial epithet, which constantly rolled down the chat, [Linda] Pafford stressed. 'It was like 50 or 60 repeated n-words'.”

Sierra and Grant counties share two State House representative districts, the 38th and 39th. The two districts split Silver City down the middle.

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