NM blows past its previous high voter turnout record

Voters wait in line to cast their ballots at the voting center on 98th NW near Central on Tuesday evening. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

New Mexico has blown past its previous high in voter turnout for a presidential election, with 889,957 ballots cast by about 5 p.m. today, according to the New Mexico Secretary of State’s office.

That compares with the previous record of just over 833,000 votes cast in the 2008 presidential election.

“We just continue to see massive turnout, which is great,” said Secretary of State spokesman Alex Curtas.

Despite the high turnout, Curtas said things had largely gone according to plan at polling places across the state as of 3:30 p.m., with lines moving quickly and only a few small isolated glitches.

Curtas said New Mexico typically sees a rush of voters after 5 p.m., and urged voters with flexible schedules to avoid the after-work rush.

“Come 5 o’clock, we definitely expect more of a rush,” Curtas said.

As of just after 3:30 p.m. Bernalillo County voters had cast 24,640 ballots on election day, according to the county clerk’s office. All told, 68.4% of eligible voters had voted in New Mexico’s most populous county.

Candidate for New Mexico House District 31 Julie Brenning, left, and Edwina Beard, a precinct chair, right, hold signs supporting Brenning’s campaign among other signs outside the voter center. (Anthony Jackson/ Albuquerque Journal)Caracol Plaza

Late this morning, a slow trickle of voters came and went from the Caracol Plaza polling center in Albuquerque’s Northeast Heights.

For 19-year-old Albuquerque resident Cameron Goldberg, it’s been an important day – Goldberg was at the Northeast Heights polling center to cast her first-ever ballot.

“I wanted to make sure my vote was counted,” she said. “I just hope there is a little more peace.”

Betty Lansdowne poses for a photo outside the Caracol Plaza voter center. Lansdowne is a poll monitor with Common Cause. (Anthony Jackson/ Albuquerque Journal)

Clutching her clipboard and electronic tablet Betty Lansdowne, a poll monitor with Common Cause, kept an eye on the atmosphere at the site. Lansdowne, who had been monitoring the polling site since 9:30 a.m., said the current political atmosphere prompted her to be a monitor for the first time this year. “I think it’s a little more tense today,” Lansdowne said. “But I’m very proud of what I’ve been seeing in Albuquerque.”

Petroglyph Plaza

No line? No wait? No problem for Alexandra Uranga as she cast her ballot at the Petroglyph Plaza polling place around noon today.

Uranga, a 31-year-old teacher in Rio Rancho Public Schools, said she had to wait less than a minute before she could step inside to fill out her ballot.

Uranga said she hopes President Donald Trump isn’t reelected.

“I’m just afraid for what would happen if this change isn’t made,” Uranga said. “I feel like it’s going to be a close one and I’m nervous to see how it all turns out.”

Audilio Marquez, a 37-year old jewelry artist, said he was surprised about his voting experience this year.

“I was expecting huge lines, bitterness and angry people,” he said. “But so far, so good.”

For Marquez, respect and peace are the most important things he wants to see changed after the election.

“Regardless of who wins, I don’t really care,” Marquez said. “I want them to cooperate and unify.”

Bandelier Elementary

Empty voting booths on Election Day morning at the Bandelier Elementary School voter center. (Anthony Jackson/ Albuquerque Journal)

At about 8:45 a.m. the polling station at Bandelier Elementary School, was quiet after the opening rush of about 50 people at 7 a.m.

Vote center signs pointed down an empty walkway to more than a dozen black voting booths in the gym.

Of the few voters casting ballots at about 8:45 a.m. was Melissa Mota, a 25-year-old Albuquerque accountant running late for work, who spent her morning trying to figure out who to vote for.

Stickers waiting to be picked up by voters at the Bandelier Elementary School voter center. (Anthony Jackson/ Albuquerque Journal)

“I was preparing for a while,” Mota said. “I was doing my normal morning routine and I was trying to figure out last minute who to vote for before I go in for work.”

Mota said she preferred to cast her ballot in-person.

“I didn’t know about the mail-in ballots,” she said.

Mota said she isn’t hoping for a particular outcome for this election.

“I hope people stop making their personalities part of an election,” she said. “I’m over it.”

Overseeing the voting process at the school was Paul Roybal. He has worked to facilitate the voting process in Albuquerque for six years.

“Under different circumstances I don’t think voting would be that different,” Roybal said of running a polling place during a pandemic. “What’s different is maintaining the safety of people and staff.”

Roybal expects at least 800 voters to cast their ballots at Bandelier today, but anticipated having more overflow.

“Voters should be encouraged to find a center that’s not so busy – like this one right now – and come down here and vote,” he said.

98th and Central

Voters wait to cast their ballot at the polling location at the 98th Street Marketplace after it opened at 7 a.m. Tuesday. (Anthony Jackson/ Albuquerque Journal)

Before the polls opened this morning, some of Albuquerque’s West Side residents were in line – six feet apart and wearing masks – by 6:30 a.m. at the 98th Street Marketplace.

By the opening of the polls at 7 a.m., a line of more than 70 socially distanced voters extended across half the strip mall.

“I’m trying to get this done so I can go back home before the kids start school,” said Lawrence Lopez, a construction laborer.

Lopez said chose to vote in person because he wanted to make sure his vote was counted, and said he wants to see more people get along after this election.

Lopez said he had the day off to vote – but not all voters are afforded that luxury, according Joslyn Lovato, a CNA who was in line this morning at the polling place at 98th SW and Central.

Lovato said her husband doesn’t have the day off, and she hopes he is able to vote.

“I spent so much time trying to get him to vote, but if the lines are like this, I’m not sure,” she said.

Among the crowd was first-time general election voter Jose Montoya, a small business owner. He said he plans on voting for Donald Trump, and he hopes the election is peaceful.

“I’m going for Trump, but if (Joe) Biden wins, good for him,” Montoya said. “… I know a lot of people are preparing for riots. I just hope no businesses go down, nobody gets hurt.”

This story will be updated throughout the day.

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