Voter turnout weak in Bernalillo County

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – The primary election has voters casting their ballots across New Mexico, but turnout is likely to be low.

The biggest race in this election will decide which Democrat will face Governor Susana Martinez in the November 2014 general election.

But at several points throughout Tuesday, many polling locations in New Mexico’s most populated areas were sparse.

At about 1:30 p.m., the Bernalillo County Clerk’s Office reported about 40,000 people cast their ballots. That included about 7,000 absentee ballots, 22,000 early votes and 11,000 voter made at voting centers on Tuesday.

Around 4:30 p.m., the Clerk’s Office reported 17,216 votes had been cast at voting centers, an increase of more than 6,000 votes in about three hours.

Bernalillo County has 332,125 registered voters who are eligible to take part in the May primary election.

Despite the low numbers, County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver said Tuesday afternoon that the numbers were on par with what they’d expect from a primary election.

There are 69 voting centers in Bernalillo County.

The Clerk’s Office says wait times only got up to 5 minutes for most of Tuesday. By mid afternoon, only one location saw a 10 minute wait.

The Clerk’s Office also says there haven’t been any problems reported in Bernalillo County.

Toulouse Oliver says it is because the county has learned from the last primary.

“We’ve gotten it to a point where we pretty much know what to expect in the planning process, we derive so much information, especially from the 2012 general election, that we use to plan to be able to project vote turnout, to know, have a sense of what sites voters are going to turn to and kind of know what information they need,” Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver said.

The Clerk’s Office says they have seen voting go from about 14,000 votes cast an hour Tuesday to 16,000 votes cast an hour. They were expecting a rush through the time polls closed at 7 p.m.

News 13 asked a few voters at the polls why they felt the need to vote.

“I think we need to be a little more vigilant when we start electing some of our political officials, whether they be out of town, or in state,” said voter Antonio Aragon-de Barreras.

“We need some change, New Mexico’s at a crossroads right now,” said Nadine Byram, another voter.

Bernalillo County is also one of a few counties in the state using new voting machines Tuesday. So far, those machines haven’t caused issues either.

“We’ll find out tonight when the all the sites are closed down how quickly and siwftly and smoothly that process goes but were’ anticipating not much difference there,” said Toulouse Oliver.

The Clerk’s Office says the only difference people will notice is that they’ll use a Sharpee brand pen to fill out their ballot.

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