October 31, 2016

Nearly 300,000 New Mexicans have already voted

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As early voting enters its final week, roughly 300,000 people have already cast ballots, nearly 260,000 through early voting.

These numbers, as of close of polls Saturday, come from the Secretary of State’s office. Early voting was not open Sunday, and the final day of early voting will be Saturday. Absentee ballots must be returned by close of polls on Tuesday to be valid.

The new numbers show Democrats maintaining a solid lead over Republicans, but declining. A week ago, as of end of day October 22, Democrats made up 55.98 percent of all votes cast; as of this Saturday, that is down to 51.25 percent. The Republican share of the vote went from 31.48 percent to 35.33 percent, while those not part of either major party increased from 12.54 percent to 13.42 percent.

Democrats and Republicans are both running ahead of their voter registration percentages while independents and third-party voters continue to lag behind. As of Sept. 30, Democrats made up 46.78 percent of registered voters, Republicans made up 31.12 percent and those not of either major party make up 22.1 percent. Final registration numbers from Oct. 11 are still not available online.

Democrats also maintain an advantage in the state’s two most-populous counties, Bernalillo and Doña Ana counties. Many of the most high-profile legislative races take place in these counties.

In Bernalillo County, 110,015 voters have cast ballots, including 58,994 Democrats (53.62 percent), 35,447 Republicans (32.22 percent) and 15,574 of another or no party (14.16 percent).

In Doña Ana County, 25,218 voters have already cast ballots. Of those, 13,147 (52.24 percent) are Democrats, 8,041 are Republicans (31.89 percent) and 4,003 are neither (15.87 percent).

Los Alamos County, the home to a swing House district, shows a lead by Democrats, but not as pronounced as the state’s two most-populous counties. In that county, 2,418 Democrats have cast ballots (48.69 percent), 1,525 Republicans have cast ballots (30.71 percent) and 1,023 of neither party have cast ballots (20.6 percent).

Early voting has become a larger part of the elections in recent years. In 2004, early voting made up just 30.48 percent of all votes cast in New Mexico. In 2012, that number hit 47.62 percent. At the same time, absentee votes have diminished in use. In 2004, 20.12 percent of all voters used absentee ballots. In 2012, that number dropped to just 11.3 percent.

By raw numbers, early votes went from 236,340 in 2004 to 374,574. At the same time, absentee votes dropped from a peak of 172,136 in 2008 to just 88,848 in 2012. So far in 2016, just 65,065 voters have requested absentee ballots.