ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – New Mexico is reaching historic levels of voter turnout and both the Republican and Democratic parties are benefiting from the surge of voters. At last count, nearly 55% of registered voters have already cast their ballot statewide.

That’s a huge jump in voter turnout compared to the 2016 election. Election expert Professor Gabriel Sanchez says it’s clear more New Mexicans want their voices heard.

“I think going out and exercising your right to vote really sends a strong signal that you perceive that policy matters and I think that’s critical for voters out there,” said Sanchez.

Sanchez believes another big piece in voter turnout is the COVID-19 pandemic. Voters ant to move forward with candidates that will give them the economic relief they need.

Professor Sanchez says the increase in voter participation could also be due to making voting easier. “Making mail or absentee ballots accessible to a wider segment of the population and I think all of those factors when you combine them together leads me to believe that we are going to get more than a 70% turnout, we might even get to that million voters casting a ballot in New Mexico this cycle and that really is amazing,” said Sanchez.

So far, 770,000 New Mexican voters have already cast ballots. That includes in-person and absentee voting.

Nearly 49% of those voters came from Democrats while nearly 35% were from Republicans. The Secretary of State says unprecedented turnout could possibly leave the county clerk’s offices counting ballots for days after the polls close. That would delay results in those tight races.

Local Election Coverage: