Contentious ABQ races yield high turnout - Albuquerque Journal

Contentious ABQ races yield high turnout

Charles Westmark marks his ballot at the Four Hills Shopping Center during early voting in the 2021 local election. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

About 22,000 more people voted in this year’s Albuquerque mayoral race than the last time the city’s top job was on the ballot – and the number of votes may even be the highest in the race’s history.

According to unofficial results available online Wednesday, there were 119,745 votes cast for Albuquerque mayoral candidates this year. (Totals were slightly lower for other citywide matters on the ballot.)

That’s compared with the 97,399 who voted in the last local Albuquerque election featuring a mayoral race. It’s also more than any other city mayoral election going back at least 20 years, which local pollster Brian Sanderoff said likely makes it the highest number in city history.

“That’s impressive,” Sanderoff, president of Research & Polling Inc., said of the total ballots cast in this year’s mayoral race. “… It’s nice more people voted than last time.”

Sanderoff offered multiple explanations, including a state law that consolidated local elections that may have boosted participation. This year’s election, conducted by the Bernalillo County Clerk’s Office, featured questions and races from the city of Albuquerque, Albuquerque Public Schools, Central New Mexico Community College, the Village of Tijeras, the Ciudad Soil and Water Conservation District and more.

While the first consolidated local election occurred in 2019, it did not include an Albuquerque mayoral race.

Sanderoff said this year’s “colorful” mayoral race – featuring incumbent Tim Keller, Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales, and radio show host Eddy Aragon – may have sparked some additional interest, as did the City Council races, and Albuquerque’s high-profile, and heavily advertised, $50 million stadium bond question.

Participation is also a basic numbers game, and Sanderoff said there are simply more registered voters now than four years ago.

But this year’s turnout – the percent of eligible registered voters who actually cast ballots – appears well shy of the best in recent history.

Countywide turnout was 30.5%, according to a Bernalillo County Clerk’s Office spokeswoman.

Though she did not yet have an exact breakdown showing participation among voters inside city of Albuquerque limits, reported mayoral race totals indicate the turnout is just over 32%.

That’s higher than the 29% turnout in the city’s 2017 election and several previous elections, but still below 2001. Turnout that year reached about 42%, records show.

But this year’s sheer vote volume is exciting, Albuquerque City Clerk Ethan Watson said.

“We’re thrilled by the historic turnout for this election, and it speaks to the importance of engaging in our local democratic processes,” Watson said in a statement, crediting the County Clerk’s Office for ensuring it ran smoothly. “There will be a runoff election on December 7th for (Albuquerque) City Council Districts 7 and 9 and we hope and expect to see continued interest through early and election day voting there as well.”


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