Early voting turnout low in Clovis

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks Clovis City Clerk Leighann Melancon, right, swears in Nita Biekkola as an election judge Monday at city hall. Biekkola will preside over the election site at Living Stones Community Church of the Nazarene.

By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer

If early voting numbers are any indication, today’s city elections will not approach the high turnout of 2008.

On Monday, officials said 297 of 15,189 registered voters in the city had cast ballots early.

“If the early turnout is any indication (turnout will be down,” City Clerk Leighann Melancon said. “We had 1,152 people (vote) early and absentee (in 2008).”

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

In Portales, 296 have voted early, compared to 94 in 2008. There are approximately 5,400 registered voters in Portales, City Clerk Joan Martinez-Terry said.

“If that’s an indication, I’m going to say there’s a good turnout (expected),” Martinez-Terry said.

The reasons for the rise and fall are obvious in each city.

In Clovis’ 2008 election, turnout was 33.6 percent — the highest in six years — between a six-person race for mayor, four city commission races and a ballot issue to allow Sunday alcohol sales in restaurants.

This year, there are four city commission races — including District 2, where Len Vohs is running uncontested — and a municipal judge race. Based on early numbers, it seems unlikely this year’s election in Clovis will approach the 5,303-vote total of 2008.

Portales’ 2008 election, which featured only two contested city council races, garnered 8 percent turnout. This time around, there’s only one contested city council race — Ward B, where Oscar Robinson and Antonio Sanchez are running. But four are vying for the mayor position left vacant when Orlando Ortega decided to not seek a third term.