Early and absentee voting begins across New Mexico

Early voting began Tuesday across New Mexico on a limited scale at county offices, as election regulators began mailing absentee ballots upon request to registered voters.

More than a dozen people lined up to vote outside the Santa Fe County Clerk’s office, including U.S. Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández as she seeks re-election in a race against Republican incumbent Alexis Martinez Johnson.

Many counties will add more early voting locations on Oct. 22. Polls close on November 6-7 before Election Day on November 8.

Three first-term lawmakers are seeking re-election in contested races in New Mexico as voters also consider a long list of candidates for statewide elected office, including governor, attorney general and secretary of state.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is seeking a second term against GOP candidate Mark Ronchetti in a contest highlighting concerns about urban crime, abortion access and spending priorities amid a state government windfall from oil production.

Ronchetti is hoping to unseat the incumbent governor with calls for a new approach to fighting crime amid a record spate of homicides in Albuquerque and a proposal to provide annual rebates tied to oil and gas production.

Lujan Grisham has established herself as a critical advocate for expanding early childhood education, tuition-free college, and continued access to abortion. In 2021, she overturned a dormant state ban on most abortion procedures, while Rodchetti wants a nationwide referendum in a bid to ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy with limited exceptions.

In southern New Mexico, Republican U.S. Rep. Yvette Herrell is seeking a second term in a congressional district that has been redrawn in ways that could help Democrats by adding parts of Albuquerque and dividing a politically conservative oil-producing region. Las Cruces Democratic Councilman Gab Vasquez is hoping to reclaim the swing district that Republicans flipped in 2020.

In the secretary of state race, incumbent Democrat Maggie Toulouse Oliver is seeking re-election after expanding access to same-day registration ballots against Republican candidate Audrey Trujillo, an advocate of new voter ID requirements and new restrictions on absentee voting.

New Mexico’s June primary drew national attention when a handful of rural counties considered delaying the certification of results as angry crowds gave voice to unproven conspiracy theories about voting systems.

Albuquerque-based U.S. Attorney Raul Torrez is running in an open race for attorney general against Republican U.S. Attorney and veteran Jeremy Michael Gay of Gallup.

Voters will also decide on a statewide referendum that would increase spending on K-12 schools and early childhood education by about $200 million a year through larger distributions from the state’s oil-based permanent fund.

The entire state House is up for election. Democrats hold a 45-seat majority, with 24 Republicans and one unaffiliated lawmaker.

In recent elections, Democrats have consolidated control of every statewide office, the state Supreme Court, and large majorities in the state House and Senate.

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