It’s a record-breaking election cycle for New Mexicans casting their vote early or through absentee ballots, according to the New Mexico Secretary of State’s office.
Approximately 430,796 people cast a ballot by the end of early voting on Saturday, the office said.
“We’re looking as though we’ll increase our overall turnout numbers from 2010,” UNM Political Science Professor Gabriel Sanchez said.
That was the last year there was an open Gubernatorial seat. That year’s early voter turnout was just under 298,000, about 30 percent less than this year’s early turnout.
Sanchez expects a large number of people to show at the polls Tuesday, but added the early results are not necessarily indicative of a record-breaking year for total voter turnout.
“We could see maybe as much as 70 maybe 75 percent of everybody who votes this election cycle will have done so early,” Sanchez explained. “I think if we see a record-breaking type of election, I think it’s going to be more of 60 to 65 percent of all eligible voters will turn out. That means probably a steady but not huge number of people filling the voting polls tomorrow during actual Election Day.”
He suspects people are excited to vote in the competitive governor’s race and two open congressional seats.
Plus, people are driven by national politics.
“We’re seeing a lot of people motivated to turn out against President Trump and his agenda to block that agenda, or people who are enthused about President Trump’s agenda,” he said.
Of Bernalillo County’s nearly 172,000 early voters, 91,000 Democrats cast their ballot while Republicans cast more than 52,000 early votes, according to Bernalillo County Clerk Linda Stover. That’s just under 40 percent of the county’s eligible voters, and Stover said she hopes to reach 50 percent total voter turnout.
“Women are out-voting men about two to one, which is average but it is still showing up. Millennials are still not voting. It’s the older folks that are carrying more of the vote,” Stover said.
Another benefit to the early voter turnout is that the results come in sooner, which Sanchez says is likely to happen for the governor’s race, while he says the Congressional District 2 race may be too close to call early on.
Sanchez said another reason for the boost in early voter turnout is likely from the new mobile voting unit that was set up in different neighborhoods across Albuquerque.
The Bernalillo County Clerk said more than 1,700 people voted using it in the county, and she believes about 85-percent of those people would not have voted otherwise.
Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday.