By David Arkin: CNJ Correspondent
With two days to go before voters hit the polls, candidates are busy trying to pick up last-minute votes and officials are getting voting machines in place and are preparing their office workers for Tuesday’s big day.
Tuesday is primary election day in New Mexico. Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.
There are several high-profile races on the ballot, including a much-anticipated race for the 9th Judicial District Attorney’s seat.
Voters locally will also decide on a Curry County Commissioners seat and two State Senate positions. Statewide, attention will be on the Democrat race for the 1st Congressional District between retired legislator Richard Romero and Miles Davis, an emergency room physician.
The winner of that race will face Republican Rep. Heather Wilson in November in what’s being billed as one of the state’s most intriguing races.
Locally, the district attorney’s race is the main reason officials say more people have early voted this year. Early voting closed at 6 p.m. on Saturday.
The Curry County Clerk’s Office reported on Saturday evening that 1,513 people early voted and 217 of 264 absentee ballots had been returned.
In Roosevelt County, the clerk’s office reported that 385 people early voted and 43 of 60 absentee ballots had been returned as of Saturday.
Both Curry and Roosevelt county clerk offices were busy on Saturday night running their rosters.
While election officials and workers were preparing for Tuesday, candidates were also busy.
Chandler said he spent a good part of his Saturday getting people to early vote.
“I am still pushing the early vote,” he said. “I will be knocking on doors on Memorial Day, also.”
Carter also said he was getting more people to vote on Saturday.
“I have been introducing myself to the voters and have been getting a pretty favorable impression,” he said. “People like the fact that the DA is introducing himself.”
Chandler and Carter said they felt good heading into the final weekend.
“I feel very energetic,” Chandler said. “This has been a wonderful experience. Since Feb. 6, my life has changed quite a bit. There’s a lot of excitement going into this weekend.”
Carter said he felt confident.
“Lots of the people who I have talked to believe that the DA job is not for someone who doesn’t have experience,” he said.
Voters on Tuesday shouldn’t experience anything different than previous elections.
But a new centralized voting system, which requires all voting records to be reported to the Secretary of State’s office in Santa Fe, has required extra training for workers in local county clerk’s offices.
The system was used in the last general election, Roosevelt County Clerk Joyce Lee Fraze said.
The Associated Press reported that voters can’t obtain a paper ballot in Tuesday’s primary election just because they have doubts about electronic voting machines.
The Secretary of State sent letters to county clerks reminding them that state law allows the use of paper ballots only in limited circumstances, such as for someone who didn’t receive a requested absentee ballot, if a voting machine breaks down or to take the place of a provisional ballot when a person’s name doesn’t appear on a voter registration roster.