New Mexico voters finished early voting with a flourish, with over 88,000 New Mexicans casting ballots early and in-person in the final two days of early voting on Friday and Saturday, according to the New Mexico Secretary of State’s office.
More voters voted early this year than in either 2008 or 2012, even as absentee voting numbers continue to fall.
Democrats finished with a 64,727 vote advantage with early voting over Republicans, casting 229,208 early ballots compared to 164,481 for Republicans. Those not part of either major party cast 79,478 ballots early.
Early voting ended Saturday.
This was a big increase over recent elections. The 2016 early voting numbers exceeded the 2008 numbers by 117,195 votes, and 2012 by 89,780 votes.
Absentee ballots saw a big decline for the second straight election cycle. In 2008, 172,136 of all votes were cast by absentee ballot. In 2012, that number dropped sharply to 88,848.
This year, the decline continued with voters requesting only 69,984 absentee ballots. So far, just 57,687 have been returned.
Democrats also lead with returned absentee ballots, with 26,129 absentee ballots returned compared to 22,745 returned absentee ballots for Republicans. Voters not registered with either major party returned 8,813 absentee ballots.
Absentee ballots can be returned by close of polls on Election Day.
Higher than past elections
Increased early voting largely made up for the drop in absentee voting.
Counting early votes and absentee ballots already returned, turnout for 2016 so far is at 40.5 percent of all registered voters in the state. This number should go up slightly in coming days as more absentee ballots are returned.
In 2008, early and absentee voters alone had 43.89 percent of turnout. When Election Day votes were counted, turnout hit 70.44 percent. In 2012, turnout from only early and absentee ballots was 36.94 percent. When Election Day votes were counted, turnout ended up at 62.69 percent.
Between all early votes and absentee ballots returned as of Nov. 5, Democrats have cast 48.91 percent of all votes so far, while Republicans have cast 35.86 percent.
Democrats make up 46.52 percent of registered voters, Republicans make up 31.02 percent and those registered with either major party 22.46 percent.
Some counties see big turnout
In Bernalillo County, 207,187 voters have already cast ballots, with 50.43 percent of ballots cast by Democrats, 33.12 percent by Republicans and 16.45 percent by those not part of a major party.
In Dona Ana County, 43,556 voters cast ballots early, 50.48 percent of whom were Democrats, 31.78 percent of whom were Republicans and 17.74 percent of whom were not part of either major party.
The two counties have a large amount of contested state legislative races.
But it’s Los Alamos County, the northern New Mexico county with high voter turnout rates every year, that has seen the best turnout so far.
As of Nov. 5, Los Alamos already has 57.47 percent turnout. The next closest is Democratic stronghold Santa Fe County at 48.97 percent, followed closely by Sandoval County at 48.27 percent. Bernalillo County already has 45.89 percent of all voters who have cast ballots.
Los Alamos is home to a key state House of Representatives race. Among early and absentee voters as of Nov. 5, 43.84 percent of those who voted in the county are Democrats, 33.58 percent are Republicans and 22.58 percent were member of neither major party. It is the only county where over 20 percent of voters came from neither of the major parties.
In Santa Fe, 69.43 percent of those who voted are Democrats, 15.49 percent are Republicans and 15.08 percent are members of neither major party.
Sandoval County voters as of Nov. 5 were 42.46 percent Democrats, 39.68 percent Republicans and 17.86 percent of some other or no political party.