SANTA FE — Voter turnout in New Mexico’s primary election was below average, with only one in four eligible Democratic and Republican voters casting ballots despite hotly contested races scattered across the state.
About 234,000 registered voters participated in Tuesday’s election, according to unofficial returns for the U.S. Senate races for both parties. About 25 percent of Democrats and 24 percent of Republicans cast ballots.
Turnout has averaged 28 percent in presidential election year primaries in New Mexico since 1996.
This year’s preliminary voter participation rate is much lower than in 2008, when turnout was 31 percent and 274,000 GOP and Democratic registered voters cast ballots. There was no Democratic presidential contest in the June 2008 primary because New Mexico held a presidential preference caucus earlier that year. However, the primary featured very competitive races for all three of New Mexico’s congressional seats because the incumbents ran for an open Senate seat.
In the 2010 gubernatorial primary election, voter turnout was 28 percent and nearly 259,000 Democrats and Republicans cast ballots.
Typically, a high-profile or hotly contested race draws voters to the polls, and that appeared to happen in some parts of the state this year.
Turnout was 35 percent for Republicans in Curry County, where there was a hard-hitting state Senate race that featured two Republicans, including one backed by Gov. Susana Martinez. Only 16 percent of Curry County Democrats cast ballots, however. The Senate district also included Union County, which had 37 percent GOP turnout, and parts of Quay County, with 39 percent Republican turnout.
Turnout was low in the Albuquerque area despite a number of competitive races for the Legislature and a three-way battle for the Democratic nomination in the 1st Congressional District.
— This article appeared on page C02 of the Albuquerque Journal