People stood in lines sipping coffee and tapping away on their cellphones as they waited patiently to vote at polling places in Albuquerque early Tuesday.
Things ran smoothly at Bernalillo County’s 72 voting sites and, even where there was heavy turnout, the lines moved steadily, said Bernalillo County Clerk Linda Stover.
Likewise, at the 654 voting centers throughout New Mexico, everything ran smoothly and there was a good turnout, said Alex Curtas, a spokesman for the office of the Secretary of State.
Statewide, at 6 p.m., one hour before the polls closed, 188,456 people had voted in person on Tuesday. The total number of voters, including absentee and early voters, was 634,044 — or 46% of all registered voters.
In Bernalillo County, 58,387 people had voted in person by 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, with the total number of voters in the county, including absentee and early voters, at 231,722, — or 51.2% of all eligible voters.
“We’ve had to deal with the usual issues, like we had to replace a tabulator machine that had stopped working at one of the school sites, but there were 4-5 other tabulators there, so it didn’t slow down anything,” Stover said.
There were no reports of disruptions or harassment during either the early voting period or on Tuesday, Curtas said.
To deal with any problems that might have come up, a real-time virtual situation room had been set up with the participation of the secretary of state, county clerks, the Department of Information Technology and law enforcement departments, Curtas said. They shared information, communicated back and forth, and had multiple check-ins for updates throughout the day, he said.
Common Cause New Mexico, which had volunteers monitoring polling sites throughout the state, reported that two men were asked to leave from outside the voting center at Washington Middle School, where they had been passing out sample ballots with the circles filled in next to the names for Republican judges. The men left without incident after being asked, said Common Cause executive director Mario Jimenez.
At Petroglyph Plaza on the West Side, Daskalos Center in the Northeast Heights and other sites in the metro area, voters were lined up even before the polls opened at 7 a.m. and those lines continued to form all morning, said the presiding judges at those sites.
“We’re living in an upside-down world,” said voter Juan Carlos Provencia. “The COVID lockdowns, the woke schools, gender identity, the crime, the gas prices — we’re on the brink of World War III. This is probably one of the most important elections in my time. If you look at any candidates who are not conservative, they’re just for the same old thing that’s going on right now. It just doesn’t make sense to vote for them.”
Jessica Smith, who moved to Albuquerque from Arizona, said she was surprised by “how light on crime they are here.” She encountered a “peeping Tom” looking through the windows of her home and reported it to police. They caught the offender, but didn’t arrest him “because they said we didn’t have a ‘No Trespassing’ sign in our yard.”
In addition, she said she was concerned about illegal immigration and unhappy about inflation. “I’m a mom of four kids and I’m paying $500 a month more for groceries, and I haven’t added a child and I haven’t changed the way we eat.”
Despite having children and her distress about crime, Smith said she was not worried about the proliferation of firearms.
“I think more guns are better,” she said.
That’s not Karl Richter’s position. “The big ones for me, just because of my family, are women’s rights and gun control,” he said. “My wife is susceptible to bad pregnancies and then I got kids in school, so that’s always scary, no matter where you are. I mean, everything else is important, that’s why we’re here to vote, but those are the two big ones for me.”
A research epidemiologist, Marian Campos said the issues most important to her are those related to public health and the unhoused, issues that “aren’t being mentioned much in this election,” she said.
She and her husband feed the homeless every week in Albuquerque. “We see suffering and mental health issues up close, so it’s just really disappointing that these issues aren’t being addressed.”
The economy is the leading issue for Che Lucero, who cast his vote for Democrats. “The economy does better under Democrats and the track record is extremely clear on that. Real GDP growth, job growth, you basically can’t pick a metric that doesn’t do better under Democrats.”