Voter turnout in New Mexico is quickly approaching half a million, as 486,626 voters have already cast their ballots as of Friday morning, according to numbers provided by the Secretary of State’s office. This included 259,193 voters who have cast ballots via early in-person voting and 227,433 who returned absentee ballots. While it’s unclear whether this is just regular voters shifting their voting forward, it appears New Mexico is headed toward record turnout this year. The updated number of requested absentee ballots was not immediately available, but it appears the percent of returned absentee ballots is nearing 60 percent. Voters must return absentee ballots by 7 p.m. on Nov.
One disabled Albuquerque woman, Jeanne Hamrick, said she would not be able to afford prescription drug costs if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the Affordable Care Act during this judicial term. Hamrick spoke during a live phone conference hosted by Democratic U.S. Senator Tom Udall to let average residents around the state talk about what losing the ACA would mean for them. The Supreme Court will hear California v. Texas on Nov. 10. The case challenges the constitutionality of the individual mandate and, with the likely confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett establishing a new conservative bloc majority, the court could overturn the entire ACA.
Hamrick said that before the ACA went into effect in 2013, she was paying $100 each month for prescription medication on a social security budget.
The state Department of Health reported 669 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, the eighth time in nine days that the state has reported more than 500 cases. DOH also reported three additional deaths related to the disease. On the same day, State Human Services Department Secretary Dr. David Scrase held a webinar in which he said the hospitalization numbers include some troubling trends. Hospitalizations for COVID-19 increased to 213, 11 more than reported on Wednesday. This is tied for the second-most COVID-19 hospitalizations in a single day in New Mexico.
If the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the Affordable Care Act during the 2020-2021 judicial term, the result for New Mexicans could be catastrophic, according to various officials and experts. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear California v. Texas on November 10. If Judge Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Monday, as is expected, this will be among the first cases she will hear as a Supreme Court justice. If she is confirmed, she will create a new 6-3 conservative bloc on the court bench which could lead to a ruling that the entire ACA is unconstitutional. If this happens, 20 million Americans could lose health insurance coverage, according to a report by the Urban Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.
State health officials reported 827 new cases of COVID-19, the highest number reported in a single day in the state, and the second time in the last week the state has reported 800 or more confirmed cases in a single day.
DOH also reported eight additional deaths, the most reported in a single day since Sept. 1. The seven-day average of confirmed daily cases by the date they were reported reached 633. The seven-day average was 88 on Sept. 12.
As of Wednesday morning, 381,995 people have cast ballots for the general election in New Mexico, including a record number of those who have returned absentee ballots. The new numbers provided by the Secretary of State’s office showed that 187,971 voters had returned absentee ballots—the most ever in an election, breaking the record previously set in 2008 of 172,136. The 187,971 were 49.43 percent of the 380,280 voters who requested absentee ballots. Tuesday was the final day for voters to request absentee ballots. All absentee ballots in New Mexico must be returned by 7 p.m. on Election Day, Nov.
“The state of New Mexico last week experienced its worst week for COVID-19 infections throughout the duration of the pandemic,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said during a press conference on Tuesday with other state officials. She also acknowledged troubling patterns when it came to hospitalizations. Because of this, she announced further restrictions on businesses, including restaurants, beginning on Friday. But she did not put a stop to indoor dining—as long as restaurants complete the state’s COVID-safe certification program. Restaurants that complete the online program will be able to continue serving 25 percent of maximum capacity of indoor patrons, along with outdoor service.
State health officials reported 599 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday and seven deaths related to the disease. This is the sixth time in the last week that the state has reported 500 or more cases after not doing so in the previous seven months of the pandemic.
Bernalillo County reported 154 new cases of the disease, while Doña Ana County reported 135 new cases. Eleven other counties reported double-digit increases in cases: Curry County (45), Santa Fe County (33), San Juan County (30), Otero County (29), Chaves County (26), Eddy County (21), Lea County (18), Sandoval County (18), Luna County (17), McKinley County (16) and Valencia County (15).
The state Department of Health also reported one new case among individuals held by federal agencies at the Otero County Prison Facility and one new case among New Mexico Corrections Department inmates at the Central New Mexico Correctional Facility in Valencia County. DOH offered the following information about the seven deaths:
A male in his 80s from Curry County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions.A female in her 80s from Eddy County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions.A second female in her 80s from Eddy County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions.A male in his 60s from Roosevelt County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions.A male in his 40s from Santa Fe County who had underlying conditions.A male in his 80s from Santa Fe County who was hospitalized and was a resident of the Kingston Residence in Santa Fe.A female in her 90s from Santa Fe County who was hospitalized and was a resident of the Kingston Residence in Santa Fe. DOH did not disclose which underlying condition the man had, only if one was present.
New Mexico voters continued to head to the polls and return absentee ballots early, as 322,880 voters had already cast their ballots as of Tuesday morning: 154,578 through early in-person voting and 71,939 through returning absentee ballots. The number of returned absentee ballots is now the second-most in state history, only behind the 172,136 absentee ballots returned in 2008, and is poised to break that year’s record total by tomorrow morning. As of Tuesday morning, 44.77 percent of all voters who requested absentee ballots have returned them. Today is the final day for voters to request absentee ballots.
For their absentee ballots to count, voters must return them by 7 p.m. on Nov. 3.
For 18-year-old Artemisio Romero y Carver, a single piece of legislation changed his outlook on participating in democracy.
Romero y Carver, a steering committee member of Youth United for Climate Crisis Action (YUCCA), said that before 2019, he was not engaged with the politics of a government that he felt didn’t represent him or address his concerns.
“Then I read the Green New Deal. For the first time I saw a document, a piece of legislation, something that was part of the U.S. government that didn’t seem antithetical to my own life, that seemed like a genuine representation of my interests, in policy,” he said.
Romero y Carver was not alone. The Green New Deal, introduced by U.S. Rep. for New York Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, a Democrat from New York, and Democratic U.S. Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, galvanized a sector of the electorate, even if it didn’t get very far in Congress. The legislation, a set of goals which outlined an aggressive transition to renewables that included support for fossil fuel-dependent communities and the electrification of the U.S. transportation sector, was quickly written off by many moderate Democrats and the entire Republican Party at the national level as being unrealistic.
But for Romero y Carver, and other young voters who are deeply concerned about climate change, the plan was an example of exactly the type of policies that are needed to address the climate crisis head on.
“In general, I find that people my age recognize climate change and recognize the immediate need for bold action. But we also don’t feel that that is ever possible when it comes to voting.