Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal
Voter turnout in New Mexico’s primary election was a mixed bag at Bernalillo County’s 72 polling sites, with some reporting lines of people forming even before the doors opened at 7 a.m., and others reporting little action and rows of voting booths sitting idle for prolonged periods.
As of 5:30 p.m., 78,645 people in Bernalillo County had voted, including early and absentee voters. Of that total, 27,325 cast a ballot on Tuesday, said Bernalillo County Clerk Linda Stover. The total represents about 23% of all eligible voters in the county, she said.
“It’s more than it was in 2018, but until we get up in the range of 30% and 40%, to me it’s low voter turnout,” Stover said. “A lot of people say ‘I’m not going to vote in the primary and will just wait until November,’ but by that time, they’ve lost their chance to pick somebody.”
Statewide, about 225,600 votes were cast as of 5 p.m. Tuesday, including early, absentee and election day ballots, according to the office of the Secretary of State. That total represents about 22% of all eligible voters.
For the first time, same day registration was available for those who may have moved and needed to change their address.
More than 1,600 Bernalillo County voters did just that on Tuesday, in addition to about 1,500 who changed their address during early voting, Stover said.
While there were no technical or equipment glitches reported in Bernalillo County, an alert sent out at 6:30 p.m. from Sandoval County Clerk Anne Brady-Romero, said that due to a last-minute rush long lines at polling places throughout the county were being reported. She reminded voters that if they were in line by the time the polls closed at 7 p.m., they would be allowed to vote.
Polling places surveyed in Bernalillo County early in the day said voter turnout was light, although some, like Petroglyph Plaza on the West Side, and Daskalos Shopping Center on Menaul east of San Mateo, had people lined up well before voting began at 7 a.m.
Other polling sites, like the one at Highland High School, reported processing just 20 people two hours after the polls had opened.
Voters voiced common themes of needing change, more law enforcement on the streets, addressing the homeless issue, stricter control at our southern border, better school security, and regulation of firearms — some in favor of stricter laws and others seeing such measures as an affront to their rights.
“We live in Ventana Ranch and I got shot at in my own backyard,” said Karen Amador. “I called 911, twice, and they never came.”
She and her husband, Phillip, said they were only supporting Republican candidates, and were particularly interested in candidates with a background in law enforcement or military, and who have “Christian values.”
Tammie Zierden, an accountant for a construction company, was at the other end of the political spectrum.
“I won’t be supporting Republicans, and I don’t have a problem saying that,” she said.
Zierden was interested in candidates who value clean energy, women’s health and reproductive rights and other progressive issues.
Mindy J., a vice president of sales and marketing for a hotel company in Santa Fe, said issues related to the economy were very important to her. “I think that we’re giving away far too much, that there are a lot of incentives for not working,” she said.
“I also don’t think that we’re securing our border the way that we should and I feel for our police officers. There aren’t enough of them and I’m disappointed in their response times.”
She also pointed to the increase in criminal activity and the criminal justice system’s inability “to keep violent criminals in jail.”
Voter Joy Dinaro, who works in the housing department of Catholic Charities, praised Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.
“I most appreciated that she took care of the state when it came to the pandemic, and I think New Mexico would have been a lot worse off. Taking care of people and making sure they have an affordable place to live and enough food to eat is also of primary importance to me,” she said.
Tom Mendes and his wife, Jacqueline Mendes, have been married 46 years, he is a Republican, she calls herself a “moderate Democrat” and adds, “we get along just fine.”
A semi-reitred insurance broker, Tom Mendes said the primary is about “crime, the economy, security — everything is just terrible.”
He noted that the grounds around the White House are fenced and locked as protection to control access and so people don’t get hurt. “But how about our schools? How come they don’t have the damn doors locked with a wall around it? Those little babies are defenseless.”
Jacqueline Mendes, a semi-retired hair stylist, said there needs to be more awareness about guns and that she and her husband are both in favor of more sensible gun safety laws.
“We need more background checks. People should have to register their guns and it should be documented and tied to the drivers license,” she said. “They already ask for a driver’s license for everything, anyway — your credit cards, banking and anything you purchase. That should be in there, too. It should be in the system.”