Republican congressional candidate Yvette Herrell filed a suit Tuesday, asking a judge to order the impound of absentee ballots in a key southern New Mexico county after she lost to Xochitl Torres Small in last week’s election. Herrell filed the suit in state district court and asked the court to order State Police to take control of absentee ballots and associated documents from Doña Ana County. She also wants an investigation into “reports of chain-of-custody issues and other improprieties” though she provided no evidence of problems.
The Doña Ana County Canvassing Board unanimously certified the results of last week’s election hours before Herrell filed the suit. In the filing, Herrell claims she was “stripped of [the] title” of winner of the election because of the results from the Doña Ana County absentee ballots. Some media outlets had already projected Herrell to win, but at least one, the Albuquerque Journal, did not know of the absentee ballots.
Early voting in one key southern New Mexico county is not only outpacing past years, it is so far beating out all other counties in the state. Through the end of Monday, 4,304 Doña Ana County voters already cast their ballots either by early in-person voting or by returning absentee ballots. And Democrats are happy, as 56.9 percent of those voters are Democrats. In 2016, 50.28 percent of early and absentee voters were Democrats. Statewide, 22,702 voters have already cast ballots.
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.
Bernalillo County has the most residents and the most registered voters in the state—but right now, Doña Ana County has the most voters who have cast ballots early. That is according to numbers from Tuesday morning from both counties, two counties with a number of key legislative races and the two counties with the largest number of registered voters, as of Sept. 30. In Doña Ana County, 6,639 people voted early, as of 11:45 a.m. compared to 4,293 voters in Bernalillo County who cast their votes early as of approximately the same time. That is 6 percent of registered voters in Doña Ana County and 1 percent of registered voters in Bernalillo County.
New Mexicans are headed to the polls on election day —and it appears voters are out in full force in some of the state’s most populous counties. In Bernalillo County, more than 1,000 voters turned out within 15 minutes of the polls opening. A spokesman for the Bernalillo County Clerk’s office said within the first hour, voting convenience centers saw about 4,000 voters overall. As of 11:00 a.m., four hours after voting convenience centers opened, 14,275 votes were cast in Bernalillo County. Bernalillo County has also received 222 returned absentee ballots.