Voting turnout about average: Primary draws about 20 percent of registered voters.

By Marlena Hartz CNJ STAFF WRITER

In Curry County and surrounding areas, voter turnout in the Tuesday primary was lackluster, once again.

About 20 percent of registered voters in Curry County cast ballots in the race, according to unofficial poll results available on the New Mexico Secretary of State Web site, www.sos.state.nm.us.

By turning the other cheek, voters are squandering their own tax dollars, Curry County Deputy Clerk Connie Jo Lyman said.

The election devoured roughly $64,000, according to Lyman. That sum covered the salary of poll workers and the cost of election materials, such as ballots and canvas sheets, Lyman said.

“I am a conservative person. I don’t like to waste. I wish from the bottom of my heart that (taxpayers) would utilize what I have spent,” said Lyman, who oversees county elections.

“I don’t like to throw a party and have nobody come.”

To cut down on costs, Lyman and other local government officials try to estimate how many voters will show up at the polls. Those estimates always err on the optimistic side, since no registered voter can be turned away. Inevitably, ordered ballots go unused, Lyman said.

For the 2006 primary race, Lyman predicted 50 percent of registered Democrats and Republicans would make their voices known at the polls.

In the 2004 primary race, voter turnout also hung at about 20 percent, according to Curry County figures.

As a new county clerk, Laurie Pettigrew of De Baca County was anticipating a larger voter turnout.

Just about 40 percent of registered voters in De Baca County were drawn to the polls Tuesday, the lowest election response Pettigrew has seen since she assumed her position.

“I don’t know why voter turnout is so low. I think (De Baca citizens) care very much about the county and they care about the issues,” Pettigrew said.

But apathy reigns during election time.

“It is our right as citizens of the county to get out and vote.

“I expected a higher turnout,” she said.

County officials have 10 days from the election to turn in official results to the state, which involves recounting all ballots. Lyman hopes to have reconfirmed the Curry County election results by Friday.