Democrats and Republicans in New Mexico go to the polls today to formally nominate candidates for president, U.S. House, state Legislature, and other state and county offices, and officials are expecting strong voter turnout.
That’s because increased turnout has already been happening. More people voted early this year in New Mexico than in the last two presidential primary elections — about 119,000 Democrats and Republicans statewide this year versus 66,661 in 2012 and 49,709 in 2008.
And about 17,000 absentee ballots had been returned statewide by Saturday, compared with 18,564 absentee votes cast in 2012 and 30,854 in 2008. Absentee ballots can be returned anytime before the polls close today.
“The secretary of state is very encouraged by the turnout so far for this primary election,” said Kenneth Ortiz, the secretary of state’s chief of staff. “…Our office hopes every eligible voter who wants to participate will get out and vote (Tuesday) if they haven’t already done so.”
Turnout has been way up in Doña Ana County, where 8,658 people voted early this year, compared to 3,503 in 2014 and 3,269 in 2012, according to Chief Deputy County Clerk Scott Krahling. And 756 absentee ballots had been returned in Doña Ana County by Monday afternoon — a big increase over the 332 absentee ballots cast in 2014 and 329 in 2012.
“Early voting turnout was huge this year, and we hope for the momentum to continue through Election Day,” Krahling said.
Early voting numbers were similarly high in Bernalillo County.
“We’ve had almost double the turnout for early and absentee voting here in Bernalillo County than we had in the 2012 primary election, which itself surpassed 2008,” said County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver. “I’m hearing pundits say that this is possibly going to be the highest turnout we’ve had in a primary election since 1976.”
Some 48,106 people voted early in Bernalillo County, and about 8,114 absentee ballots had been returned as of Monday afternoon.
The race at the top of the ballot is likely driving much of the increased turnout. A day after The Associated Press declared Hillary Clinton the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, Democrats will decide whether Clinton or Bernie Sanders wins the majority of New Mexico’s delegates.
Some 43 delegates to the Democratic National Convention are up for grabs in New Mexico. Nine are so-called superdelegates who can support whichever candidate they want — five have pledged support for Clinton — and the other 34 will be awarded proportionately based today’s vote.
Donald Trump has already become the presumptive Republican nominee for president, but several other candidates will also appear on the ballot. The state’s Republican primary voters can choose between Trump, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, and Marco Rubio.
NMPolitics.net has covered the presidential race in New Mexico extensively. Our articles are here.
If you’re looking for information on other races, We’ve posted two articles about legislative candidates’ views on structural issues such as paying lawmakers and ethics reform (here and here). We’ve also looked in-depth at the Democratic primary for Doña Ana County district attorney (here) and posted two follow-up articles about ethics complaints filed in that race (here and here).
Here are links to some other election guides:
Know of any other guides we should add? Email us a link.
Once you’re ready to vote in the Democratic or Republican primary, click here to find information for your county’s clerk, whose office can tell you where to vote. The Secretary of State’s Office has also created a handy map that shows all Election Day polling places statewide. You can search using your address to bring up the closest locations in your county.
If you click here, you’ll be asked to enter your county, name, and date of birth to view a sample ballot that shows the choices you’ll have when you vote.
Polls are open today from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. If you filled out an absentee ballot, it must be returned by 7 p.m.
To help speed voting in Doña Ana County, Krahling said his office will be posting information about the length of lines at polling places online. Poll workers have portable tablets that will let them check people in to vote while they wait in line. And bus services offered by the county and the City of Las Cruces will be free today to help people get to the polls.
Remember, a new law allows 17-year-olds who will be 18 by the general election on Nov. 8 to vote in the party primaries starting this year — provided you registered to vote as a Democrat or Republican before last month’s deadline.
New Mexicans who aren’t registered as Democrats or Republicans will have to wait until Nov. 8, the day of the general election, to vote in this year’s county, state and federal elections.
If you’re voting today, share your experience by sending us an email. We’d like to know if you have any problems. We’d also love to hear about positive experiences. Thanks!
And check back throughout the day and evening for election updates before and after the polls close.