ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Voters are heading to the polls Tuesday for Albuquerque’s municipal election.
Voters will chose a new mayor, city councilors, weigh in on a controversial sick leave ordinance and a $125 million bond package.
Voters say the Bandelier Elementary School location started off the day with only two poll workers.
“It’s too bad but it could be a lot worse,” said Ty Bannerman. “I think they are understaffed inside so you know you got to make due with what you can.”
Albuquerque City Clerk Natalie Howard says delays very early in the day are normal. She says some voting centers did have to do some trouble-shooting to get everything up and running.
A long line also quickly formed at the Albuquerque Museum.
Voters at Bandelier Elementary School waited about 35 minutes to cast their ballot around 8:30 a.m. While some voters say the line took longer than they expected, some people KRQE News 13 spoke with say that is a good sign for turn out.
“I thought it was kind of awesome,” said voter Sandy Blanton. “I haven’t see a long line at the polls in a long time and I think it’s a good indication. I’m really pleased about it.”
KRQE News 13 also heard of long lines at Bear Canyon Senior Center, Jefferson Middle School and a late start at Montezuma Elementary.
By 10:30 a.m. Tuesday more than 10,000 voters had cast their ballots. That is on top of the approximately 44,000 who voted early and absentee.
Some may think the high early voting numbers will mean fewer people will head out to the polls Tuesday, but the city clerk thinks otherwise. She says this year is different and expects a higher voter turnout overall.
With seven mayoral candidates on the ballot Tuesday, the City Clerk’s Office says it does expect a bigger turnout than in 2013.
That election was particularly low with less than 20 percent heading to the polls.
This year, about 13 percent of registered voters have already voted. At the close of early voting Friday evening, nearly 41,000 ballots had been received through the early voting centers. There have also been about 3,000 returned absentee ballots.
In the 2013 mayoral election, there were a little more than 26,000 early votes, which is a big increase this time around.
KRQE News 13 asked City Clerk Natalie Howard about the expected increase in voter turnout.
“It seem like this election has been drawing its own momentum and has been really exciting that there’s been so much coverage and so much engagement from the community,” Howard said. “So I think everyone is just very engaged and very excited about voting in this very important election.”
UNM Political Science Professor and KRQE political expert, Gabe Sanchez, says the mayoral race is a big factor pushing people to the polls. He adds that the five city council seats up for grabs are also a concern for voters, and that controversial sick leave ordinance is getting a lot of attention.
“So I think you have all those things working toward greater turn out that we had last mayoral election but remember 20 percent that’s among historic lows,” he said.
Sanchez also said he thinks there could be a 25 percent voter turnout this year and 30 percent turnout if we’re lucky.
He did say that does not mean that number of people will vote on all the issues on the ballot, saying the long sick leave ordinance could be passed up by voters who choose not to read the entire bill.
Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. Remember a photo ID is required to cast a ballot at the 53 voting centers around the city.