Voters of City Council District 3 may vote at either of the two voting locations, regardless of where they are registered to vote with the City of Rio Rancho

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SANTA FE – Almost 12% of the voters eligible to participate in Tuesday’s primary election have cast their ballots already – with Republicans slightly more likely to turn out than Democrats.

But voters still have 12 hours to boost those numbers.

Polling locations across New Mexico will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, and same-day registration is available for new voters or independents who want to register with a party to participate in the primary.

The turnout pace so far roughly matches the turnout from 2018 at a similar point in the election cycle. About 28% of voters participated in the primary that year.

Early and absentee voting began last month.

“I really thought we’d have higher turnout because there are so many contested races,” Bernalillo County Clerk Linda Stover said Monday. “It’s certainly an important election.”

At stake are the Republican nomination for governor; the Democratic campaigns for attorney general, treasurer and auditor; and a host of contested legislative, sheriff’s and local races.

Tuesday’s election is the first since New Mexico adopted new congressional and legislative districts to reflect new census data.

In Bernalillo County, election workers will operate 72 polling locations Tuesday, and voters may choose any site to cast their ballot. Absentee ballots can also be turned in at any of the county’s polling locations.

For people who want to avoid a crowd, Stover said, the polls tend to be slowest at mid-morning and mid-afternoon.

In Santa Fe County, election workers will staff 31 polling sites – the busiest of which is often the Santa Fe County Fair Building on Rodeo Road.

Santa Fe County Clerk Katharine Clark said the county’s website will have a map with wait times at each location. She encourages people to vote early rather than get caught in the rush as polls close.

“Don’t wait until the last minute,” she said.

This year’s primary election is the first in New Mexico that allows independent and minor-party voters to change their affiliation at the polls and cast a primary ballot for Democratic, Republican or Libertarian candidates.

About 3,730 voters have already taken advantage of the option – a figure that includes people registering for the first time, in addition to those changing parties.

“I think the word is out,” Clark said. “People are using same-day registration.”

New Mexico has closed primaries, meaning only voters registered with one of the major parties can participate.

The top of the primary ballot features a contested race for governor among five Republicans seeking the GOP nomination to challenge Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham this fall.

Former KRQE meteorologist Mark Ronchetti and state Rep. Rebecca Dow are the best-funded candidates in the Republican field. Also running are Sandoval County Commissioner

Jay Block, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel; Greg Zanetti, an Albuquerque financial adviser and retired general in the Army National Guard; and former Cuba Mayor Ethel Maharg, an anti-abortion activist.

For Democrats, the race for attorney general – a competition between State Auditor Brian Colón and 2nd Judicial District Attorney Raúl Torrez – tops the ballot.

There are also contested Democratic races for state treasurer and state auditor.

All 70 seats in the state House are on the ballot, 13 of which are contested Democratic races.

Through Monday, about 12.5% of the state’s Republican voters had cast early or absentee ballots, according to a Journal analysis of figures released Monday. Turnout for Democrats was at 11.6%, and 3.4% of Libertarian had cast ballots.

The total number of absentee and early votes cast so far is 122,125, according to numbers released Monday by the Secretary of State’s Office.