ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A contentious $50-million stadium bond question and a heated mayor’s race brought out over 42,000 city voters on Election Day, according to unofficial results from the Bernalillo County Clerk. An additional 76,048 voted either early or absentee.

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In total, about 120,000 of the more than 370,000 voters registered cast ballots in Albuquerque’s recent 2021 local election. Those numbers put this year’s voter turnout at about 32%, slightly higher than the last mayoral election in 2017.

“We did have a pretty good turnout,” says Linda Stover, the Bernalillo County Clerk, who oversees local elections. “I was really pleased. It started picking up about a week before the election.”

Across the city, Republican voters had a slightly higher turnout than Democratic voters, according to data from the Bernalillo County Clerk’s Office. Of the 99,750 registered Republicans in Albuquerque, 38.75% turned out to vote. Just over 36% of Democrats turned out to vote, but there was a greater number of registered Democratic voters. All together, Democratic voters nearly outnumbered Republicans, with 64,571 Democratic voters casting ballots compared to 38,750 Republicans.

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Large swaths of Bernalillo County lean Democratic. Data from NM SOS.

KRQE News 13 broke the data down by precinct, the smallest area for which election data is collected. Most precincts across Albuquerque encompass multiple housing blocks and are roughly the size of neighborhoods.

The data reveals that Nob Hill and the Northeast Heights had the highest turnout rate. The race for City Council District 7 — which is roughly a square stretching from Los Altos Park, north to Montgomery Boulevard, and down to I-25, with Coronado Center and Uptown right in the middle  — had particularly high turnout. Just over 40% of registered Republicans and Democrats showed up to vote in that district.

“That’s a real active neighborhood association area,” Stover explains. “Those people meet real often. They’ve got some indivisible groups in there. They’ve got people that actually get out and knock the doors.”

Stover believes it was likely the soccer stadium bond question and the mayor’s race that spurred turnout in this election. “The mayor’s race got real contentious towards the end, and that kind of livened people up. Other than that, there wasn’t a whole lot to be excited about,” she says.

The stadium bond, of course, was a resounding “no,” with nearly 77,000 votes against it. Overall, opposition came from across the city, but generally speaking, voters on the east side of town mounted greater opposition.

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Most precincts across Albuquerque voted “no” on the stadium bond question. Data from NMSOS.

Votes for the mayor’s race were more mixed. Unofficial results show that the majority of Tim Keller’s support came from central Albuquerque. In the Nob Hill area, over 80% of the ballots cast for the mayor’s race went to Keller.

Manny Gonzalez saw low support from the UNM and Nob Hill areas, where he received 20% or less of the votes cast. He saw stronger support from a few districts near the edges of the city. But across large areas of the Heights and the West Side, Gonzales saw support from about 20% to 40% of voters.

The third candidate in the race, Eddy Aragon’s support was low across the West Side, downtown, and the center of the city. He saw the most support from Northeast Heights voters.

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Mayoral election winner, Tim Keller saw the most support across Albuquerque, but his greatest support came from the Nob Hill area. Data from NMSOS.

Across the city, turnout in each precinct for the mayor’s race ranged from less than 5% of registered voters to more than 50% of registered voters. The southwest corner of the city had a relatively low turnout, while the Northeast Heights averaged substantially higher percentages of people participating in the mayoral election. The Nob Hill area also had relatively high turnout rates, with around 50% of registered voters casting ballots in some precincts.

Nayomi Valdez, the policy director at the New Mexico affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU-NM), says “there’s been sort of an unspoken acceptance that some people just don’t vote,” both locally and across the country. This election cycle, ACLU-NM was involved in getting information to the public to help push voters to vote on certain policies. But broadly speaking, “from the ACLU perspective, 100% voter participation would be ideal,” she says.

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Turnout for the mayoral race varied across the city, with high turnout concentrated in several neighborhood. Data from NMSOS.

Valdez has worked in campaigns in the past and says it all comes down to money — limited finances, perhaps somewhat inadvertently, lead to certain people being less informed and less likely to vote.

“There are tough decisions that different organizations [and] candidates have to make about where they spend their money,” she says. “This is why people that have traditionally not voted don’t get engaged.” It’s a cycle where candidates tend to spend their money on people that are already more likely to vote. So some groups are left out.

“It’s really unfortunate,” Valdez says. “It’s not okay that that is the way that it is run traditionally.” But she says that across the nation, there’s been a “huge mobilizing effort” to reach communities that have traditionally had low voter participation rates.

In Albuquerque, voter participation in this year’s mayor’s race seems to correlate with socioeconomic standing. That is, generally speaking, whiter neighborhoods had higher turnout rates. In fact, data from the latest election shows that for every 30% increase in the number of residents in a precinct identifying as white, the average turnout for the mayor’s race increased by about 20%.

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The more white residents in a precinct, the more voter participation in the 2021 mayor’s race. Data from NMSOS and the US Census Bureau. See Reporter’s Note at end of story for more information.

Bernalillo County Clerk, Linda Stover, says that while the county does not collect demographic data that might help identify certain ethnic or socioeconomic groups that were left out of the election, her office has been working hard to try to spread information and make sure that people had several different ways to cast their ballot.

“With this early voting, it makes it so convenient. And then on Election Day, we have so many polling locations, and then you can get an absentee ballot,” she says. “We make it really, really convenient for folks to vote if they want to vote.”

Stover says she expects similar turnout next month, for the runoff election for City Council District 9 (representing the Southeast Heights and Four Hills area) and District 7 covering Uptown. That election will be held on December 7. Early voting locations will open on November 16 but will be closed for Thanksgiving.

Reporter’s Note: Districts reporting five or fewer votes are not included in analyses to retain voter privacy. The analysis of voter turnout and socioeconomic status is intended as a generalized analysis. Data for individual precincts is imperfect because the Secretary of State’s voting precincts does not necessarily match the US Census Bureau’s districts. Still, as a whole, the correlations shown by the analysis remain accurate.