Voters wait in line to cast their ballots at a voting center on Albuquerque’s West Side on Tuesday. Voter turnout for this year’s general election hit 52%, according to unofficial election results. (Liam DeBonis/Journal)




Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal



SANTA FE – Bolstered by big stakes and a large number of absentee ballots, New Mexico voter turnout eclipsed 711,000 votes cast in this year’s general election – or about 52.2% of registered voters.

That turnout level, based on unofficial results, would eclipse the 2018 election in terms of raw votes cast, but would fall short of the 56% turnout from four years ago.

“Basically, we have a similar number of votes to four years ago, but a smaller percentage turnout because there are more voters on the rolls now,” said Brian Sanderoff, a longtime New Mexico political observer who is the president of Research & Polling Inc.

Turnout is generally lower in non-presidential election years like this year, and voting levels in some such midterm elections has sagged over the last decade.

In 2014, for instance, only about 40% of registered New Mexico voters cast ballots.

Based on a review of voting data released before polls closed Tuesday, Republicans actually voted at a higher clip this year than Democrats statewide, as about 55.2% of registered Republicans cast ballots compared to roughly 51.1% of Democrats.

But, in most cases, that GOP advantage was not big enough to offset a statewide Democratic advantage in voter registration.

With most Democrats appearing to vote for candidates of their party, Democrats retained a stranglehold over all statewide offices in New Mexico and appeared poised to have an all-Democratic congressional delegation for the first time since 2020.

“Republicans turned out at a higher rate than Democrats – it’s just there are more Democrats than Republicans,” Sanderoff told the Journal.

Voters line up to register to vote and cast their ballots at Louie’s Lounge inside the Student Union Building at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022. (Liam DeBonis/Albuquerque Journal)

Registered independents, or those who decline to state a party affiliation, trailed far behind Democrats and Republicans in terms of turnout, with only about 28% of such voters casting a ballot in this year’s election cycle, Sanderoff said Wednesday.

Meanwhile, nearly two-thirds of the 711,000 or so votes cast statewide – the number could still increase slightly as some counties were finalizing vote-counting Wednesday – were cast before Election Day via absentee or early in-person voting.

That continues a recent trend that has seen many New Mexicans cast their ballots early.

“We’re at a point now where clearly the majority of New Mexicans prefer to vote before Election Day,” Sanderoff said.

This year’s race also marked just the second statewide election in which eligible voters could register to vote and cast their ballots on the same day up through Election Day.

Alex Curtas, the spokesman for the Secretary of State’s Office, said about 20,000 people took advantage of same-day voter registration, with the number almost evenly split between those who registered and voted on Election Day, and those who did so before it.

While voters who sought to register and cast their ballots on Election Day encountered delays, Curtas said Wednesday there were no systemic issues with the program.

“Anyone who wanted to use same-day registration was able to do so,” Curtas said.

Statewide, turnout varied by county, with registered Republicans voting at a higher rate than Democrats in many rural counties.

For example, in Lea County in southeast New Mexico, about 50% of registered Republicans voted compared to about 29% of Democrats, according to a Research & Polling analysis based on numbers released just before polls closed Tuesday.

However, Democrats outvoted Republicans in some more urban counties.

In Santa Fe County, about 63% of Democrats cast ballots compared to about 57% of registered Republicans. And in Los Alamos County, which has trended more Democratic in recent election cycles, about 67% of Democrats voted compared to 57% of Republicans.

This year’s election results will be made official Nov. 29, after the state’s 33 counties conduct their canvasses and certify results.