Election Day is just two days away and nearly a third of registered voters in Chaves County have already voted. Out of 33,351 registered voters, 8,363 residents voted early and 1,803 residents voted absentee as of Thursday, according to County Clerk Rhoda Coakley.
“I think people are seeing that this is a very important election, and they just want to express their opinion,” Coakley said of the totals.
Coakley added that alongside a tight race for president, the Land of Enchantment has its share of hotly contested races in this election, including active senatorial and County Commission races. “I think that’s what’s bringing the voters out, and I’m glad to see it. It costs the same if one votes or we all vote, so let’s get out there and do it.”
For those who have yet to vote, polls will be open Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Coakley said she expects Tuesday will be busy but does not think voters will suffer long lines since so many residents have voted ahead of Election Day.
Rep. Martin Heinrich, D-Albuquerque, and Heather Wilson, R-Albuquerque, vie for the opening U.S. Senate seat occupied by longtime U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman, while incumbent Rep. Steve Pearce, R-Hobbs, and Evelyn Madrid Erhard, D-Las Cruces, contest for U.S. House of Representatives, District 2.
Democrat Barbara J. Vigil and Republican Paul Kennedy vie for Supreme Court associate justice, and Richard C. Bosson is on the ballot for retention. Democrat Monica Zamora is up against Republican J. Miles Hanisee in the Court of Appeals race, and Roderick T. Kennedy and Michael Vigil are up for retention votes.
A contentious race between Senate President Pro Tem Tim Jennings, D-Roswell, and Republican Cliff Pirtle will be decided in State Senate District 32, while Stephanie L. Dubois, D-Tularosa, and incumbent Sen. Bill Burt, R-Alamogordo, square off in District 33. Incumbent Rep. Candy Spence Ezzell, R-Roswell, and Pablo Martinez, D-Dexter, compete for District 58 in the state House. Republican Robert Corn and Democrat Magil Duran contend for Chaves County Commission, District 4.
Five constitutional amendments and three bond issues will also be on the ballot.
The first constitutional amendment would increase membership of the Judicial Standards Commission from 11 to 13. The second would allow the Legislature to establish more qualifications and educational requirements for members of the Public Regulation Commission elected on or after the 2014 general election and commissioners appointed to fill vacancies on or after July 1, 2013. The third would remove duties to charter and regulate corporations from the PRC and proposes to place only the duty to charter corporations with the Office of the Secretary of State to be carried out according to what is established by the Legislature. The fourth would create an Office of the Superintendent of Insurance, removing the duty of the PRC to regulate insurance companies and other entities engaged in risk assumption and would establish an Insurance Nomination Committee that evaluates applicants and appoints the superintendent based on qualifications established by the Legislature. The fifth would enact a new section of the New Mexico Constitution to establish the Public Defender Department as an independent state agency by removing the department from its attachment to the Corrections Department.
Bond Issue A will determine if the state should be authorized to issue general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $10,335,000 to make capital expenditures for certain senior citizen facility improvement, construction and equipment acquisition.
Bond Issue B will determine if the state should be authorized to issue general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $9,830,000 to make capital expenditures for academic, public school, tribal and public library resource acquisitions and construction.
Bond Issue C will determine if the state should be authorized to issue general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $120,000,000.
Several candidates are running unopposed in the general election: Rep. Nora Espinoza, R-Roswell, for State House District 59; Rep. Bill Gray, R-Artesia, for State House District 54; Sen. Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, for State Senate District 27; Sen. Gay Kernan, R-Hobbs, for State Senate District 42; Vince Bergman, R-Roswell, for Public Education Commission District 8; Steve Harris for Chaves County treasurer; Rep. Bob Wooley, R-Roswell, for State House District 66; Republican Janetta Hicks for district attorney, District 5; and Republican Lisa Riley for district judge, District Division 9. Chaves County commissioners running unopposed are Republican Kim Chesser in District 2, and Republican Kyle Wooton in District 3.