Absentee and early in-person voting continues to exceed the pace of previous years, as 142,091 voters have already cast ballots as of Thursday morning.
As of Thursday’s release from the Secretary of State’s office, the number of returned absentee ballots passed the total number of early in-person votes, with 72,302 voters returning absentee ballots and 69,789 voters casting their votes in-person at early voting locations.
Early voting is still in its initial, limited phase with one location per county. Expanded early voting, when totals typically leap when clerks can open additional early voting locations throughout the county, will start this Saturday.
While NM Political Report does not have daily data from 2016’s elections until the expansion of early voting, this year’s voting has been much heavier than in that year.
In 2016, 68,945 voters cast ballots early before the expansion of voting, which fell on Oct. 22. This year, voters have surpassed that with two days to spare.
Absentee voting also is heavier than last year and is on its way to being the most of any year in state history.
The 72,302 returned absentee ballots are just under 20 percent of the 362,068 ballots requested by voters this year. In 2016, over 97 percent of those who requested absentee ballots returned them.
Democrats have cast 53.61 percent of all ballots so far, while Republicans have cast 34.03 percent, Decline to State voters have cast 11.38 percent and Libertarian and minor party voters have cast 0.97 percent.
Republicans have cast more ballots at early in-person voting locations than Democrats (34,269 to 27,953), but Democrats have an even larger advantage in absentee ballots (48,228 to 14,091). So far, 21.51 percent of Democrats who requested absentee ballots have returned them, compared to 24.48 percent of Republicans, 12.39 percent of Decline to State and minor party voters (the absentee ballot request totals provided by the Secretary of State’s office combines minor parties with Decline to State voters) and 15.05 percent of Libertarian voters.
Bernalillo County has by far the most ballots cast so far, with 42,343, most of which are through absentee ballots, 37,648.
Eddy County continues to have the most in-person votes, with 7,400, followed by Doña Ana County at 6,500.
Sandoval County has 6,526 absentee ballots returned, the second-most after Bernalillo County, followed by Santa Fe with 6,085.
The turnout of 142,091 is 20.25 percent of total turnout in 2016 and 17.05 percent of the total votes in 2008, which is New Mexico’s highest turnout election in history.
Voters can request absentee ballots until Oct. 20. Election officials encourage voters to return absentee votes as early as possible, and say if voters are going to send them by mail, they should do so by Oct. 27 at the very latest to make sure they arrive on time.
In New Mexico, absentee ballots must be returned by the close of polls on Election Day. Voters can also drop them off at any polling location, including during early voting.
Returning absentee ballots early will help election officials when it comes to providing unofficial results more quickly.
Counties that send more than 10,000 absentee ballots can begin returning processing absentee ballots fourteen days before Election Day, though the ballots themselves cannot be counted until Election Day. Counties that send fewer than 10,000 ballots can begin processing absentee ballots four days before Election Day.
Currently six counties (Bernalillo, Santa Fe, Sandoval, Doña Ana, Valencia and San Juan counties) have received more than 10,000 absentee ballot requests.
A total of 979 New Mexicans have registered to vote in-person since Oct. 6 using the state’s same-day voter registration option, which runs until the end of early voting on Oct. 31. Oct. 6 was the deadline for those seeking to register online or with a paper form.