NM had record absentee votes, total turnout, but elections ran smoothly

As election vote counts drag on for days in some other areas of the country, New Mexico will finish its vote counting by Wednesday. This is despite not only record-breaking overall turnout, but also record-shattering voting by absentee ballot. It all took part with the backdrop of a worldwide pandemic, necessitating special procedures for elections. Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver told NM Political Report that Election Day largely went smoothly, with just “pedestrian, every election” problems that crop up, “nothing on a wide scale or systemic level.”

But the quick vote was a contrast compared to past elections in parts of the state, both the 2018 general election and this June’s primary elections. One example was Doña Ana County.

Elections Director: GOP challenger in Doña Ana County told to ‘push the envelope’ by Republican Party

The state elections director is threatening potential legal consequences to the Republican Party of New Mexico after a Republican election challenger said the party told him to “push the envelope” on what was legal inside the absentee precinct board. The incident allegedly began Friday when two Republican election challengers allegedly grabbed the Doña Ana County Bureau of Election Director, began filming him and did not comply with election board members’ requests to stop. In a statement Friday evening, the state Republican Party denied that any assault occurred and said surveillance video showed this. The challengers’ behavior is illegal, according to a letter Mandy Vigil, state elections director, sent to the Republican Party of New Mexico Chairman Steve Pearce. The election board came to a full stop of ballot tabulations, according to the letter.

Election officials prepare to count flood of absentee ballots

State officials have urged New Mexicans to vote via absentee ballots if at all possible, citing the COVID-19 pandemic. So far, it appears, voters have heard this and are responding. New Mexicans are voting by absentee ballot at an unprecedented rate for this June’s primaries. 

As of Tuesday morning, 98,485 voters in the primary had cast ballots through absentees. In 2008, the year that previously had the highest amount of absentee ballots for a primary had just 30,854 absentee ballots cast. That number will continue to grow—as of Tuesday morning, 155,673 voters requested absentee ballots.