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Mayoral runoff produces big early vote totals

Strong early voting in the mayoral runoff between candidates Dan Lewis and Tim Keller suggests that total turnout could exceed that of the Oct. 3 election, a political observer said.

Mayoral candidates Tim Keller and Dan Lewis

Mayoral candidates Tim Keller, left, and Dan Lewis

More than 55,000 voters cast votes by the close of early voting Friday, far outpacing the early voting that preceded the October election, according to City Clerk’s Office data.

“Given the impressive early voting numbers, it appears that total voter turnout should exceed the first election turnout,” said Brian Sanderoff, president of Research & Polling Inc.

Also at stake Tuesday is the District 5 City Council runoff election between Robert Aragon and Cynthia Borrego. The winner will replace Lewis to represent the far northwest Albuquerque district.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday at more than 50 polling sites in Albuquerque.

The more than 55,000 city voters who cast early votes in the runoff election from Oct. 25 through Friday compares with 40,794 voters who voted in advance of the Oct. 3 election, City Clerk Natalie Howard said Friday.

An additional 52,708 voters cast votes on the Oct. 3 Election Day. That contest featured an eight-way mayoral race, five City Council races and a controversial sick leave ordinance that was narrowly defeated by voters.

In the Oct. 3 election, about 29 percent of the city’s 337,000 eligible voters cast ballots.

“If we have a decent turnout on Election Day, then we could actually exceed the turnout of the first race,” Sanderoff said.

Strong early voting indicates that voters are paying close attention to the mayoral runoff contest, Sanderoff said.

“Now that it is narrowed down to a runoff election between two people, voters are more focused,” he said.

Unknown is whether strong early voting will carry through to Election Day, he said.

History offers little guide because the last runoff election in an Albuquerque mayoral race was in 1993. Tuesday’s election marks the sixth mayoral runoff election since the city adopted the current form of government in 1974.

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