The opening of new polling locations caused a spike in early voting across New Mexico on Saturday, and the numbers continue to favor Democrats.
Through Saturday, 84,432 New Mexicans had voted early and absentee, according to numbers provided by the Secretary of State’s Office. That’s about 6.7 percent of registered voters statewide.
Fifty-eight percent of in-person voters through Saturday were Democrats, while 30 percent were Republicans and 12 percent were independents or members of other parties.
As of Sept. 30, 47 percent of registered voters in New Mexico were Democrats, 31 percent were Republicans, and 22 percent were independents or members of other parties. So Democrats are turning out to vote early in high numbers, while Republicans are turning out at a percentage that matches their share of registration. Fewer independents and members of other parties are voting than their share of registration.
Voting exploded on Saturday in Bernalillo County, the state’s largest, with the opening of 18 new polling sites. Through Saturday, 20,406 people had voted early there and 7,352 had returned absentee ballots. That’s about 6.3 percent of registered voters in the county.
Voting remained high in Doña Ana County, the state’s second-largest, which opened six additional polling places on Saturday. Through Saturday 8,114 people had voted early and 959 had returned absentee ballots. That’s about 8.2 percent of registered voters there.
As of Monday morning, 56 percent of early voters in the county were Democrats, 29.5 percent were Republicans, and 14.5 percent were independents or members of other parties, according to data provided by the clerk’s office. That means Democrats are also voting in higher numbers in the county, where 46 percent of registered voters are Democrats, 27 percent are Republicans, and another 27 percent are independents or members of other parties.
“I’m happy to report that we continue to have the highest turnout out we have ever seen, and I want to thank my excellent staff and poll workers who are on the front lines doing a great job,” said Doña Ana County Chief Deputy Clerk Scott Krahling.
Meg Freÿermuth of Las Cruces said it’s become easier to vote in recent years.
“Used to be specific polling places per voter. Now you can choose to vote from a multitude of locations depending on what’s most convenient,” she said. “Doña Ana County is a shining example in this country for actively taking steps to make voting easier and more accessible for the community.”
The trend toward high numbers of early voters was similar in counties across the state. There were lines on Saturday in polling places in Rio Rancho, Santa Fe, and elsewhere. Fred Sisneros said there was a line of about 20 people when he voted in Rio Rancho on Saturday.
Through Saturday, 7.5 percent of registered voters had voted in Santa Fe County, and 9.7 percent had voted in Sandoval County, where Rio Rancho is located.
What’s not clear, as NMPolitics.net reported last week, is whether more New Mexicans are voting this year, or whether they’re just voting earlier as elections become more a season than a day.