Conservancy district seeks input from pueblos on election reform 8-07

ALBUQUERQUE (AP) - The Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District board
of directors is moving forward with election reform, but it first
wants input from six American Indian pueblos within the district.

Sandia Pueblo hosted a meeting for the board and the pueblos Tuesday
night. While no decisions were made, board member Janet Jarratt said
the meeting was an important step in opening a dialogue between the
two groups.

“Communication is always good,” she said.

The board has suggested election reforms that include a switch to
paper ballots, moving oversight of elections from the board to the
secretary of state's office, implementing a voter registration system
and requiring voters to present identification, Jarratt said.

Property owners within the district elect seven members to the board
- three of whom serve two-year terms and four of whom serve four-year
terms. The last election was held in June.

Past elections have been clouded by allegations of voter fraud,
electioneering and ballot tampering, Jarratt said.

“It would be my goal to have the election reform to the point where
those questions don't arise anymore,” she said.

Amber Flores Jordan, a spokeswoman for Sandia Pueblo, said the
pueblos - Sandia, San Felipe, Isleta, Santa Ana, Cochiti and Santo
Domingo - wanted to be involved in the deliberations to ensure the
process is fair.

Jarratt said the board may take up some of the issues discussed
Tuesday night at its regular board meeting next week. She said future
meetings with pueblo leaders are also possible.

The district, established in 1925 to reclaim farmland and control
periodic flooding, serves about 11,000 farmers and gardeners along
1,200 miles of canals, smaller ditches and drains in the Rio Grande
Valley from Cochiti Reservoir south of Santa Fe to the Bosque del
Apache south of Socorro.