Clerks estimating low voter turnout in primary

By Argen Duncan: Freedom New Mexico

In the wake of Tuesday’s primary elections, county clerks are estimating voter turnout was low, and local political activists are looking forward to the November general election.

In Roosevelt County, County Clerk Janet Collins said 26 percent of eligible voters came to the polls. In the county’s individual parties, she said, about 33 percent of registered Republicans and 17 percent of registered Democrats voted.

“I think this was a little low, really,” Collins said of the turnout.

In Curry County, County Clerk Coni Jo Lyman provided numbers indicating 27 percent of eligible voters cast ballots Tuesday. About 34 percent of registered Republicans and 18 percent of registered Democrats voted.

“It felt horribly slow,” Lyman said Wednesday of voter turnout. “It felt pathetic. But that’s just a gut instinct; we haven’t analyzed it yet.”

She said she never wants to have another primary election the day after a holiday because it made the situation a “zoo.”

Roosevelt County Democratic Party Chairwoman Linda Uttaro and Curry County registered Democrat Elaine Howell said primary results were mostly as they expected.

Uttaro said the gubernatorial race would be important in the November election.

“It’s got two women running, which I consider a good sign,” she said. “They’re very diverse in what they believe.”

That race is significant because the governor is the state’s leader, Uttaro said. She doesn’t want immigration laws like those in Arizona, which require people to prove their citizenship even at routine traffic checkpoints.

Uttaro said that prospect is scary.

Along with the gubernatorial race, Howell said the contests for lieutenant governor, Congress and attorney general are important.

“An attorney general is the highest law enforcement official in the state, and he needs to administer the law fairly and with impartiality,” she said.

Howell believes having moderate candidates is critical.

Among Republicans, Roosevelt County Republican Party chairman Larry Smith and Curry County Republican Party chairman Rube Render said they were pleased with their party’s candidates selected to run.

Both men said the gubernatorial race is important because with the Census, congressional and legislative districts are being redrawn this year.

Render said having one party in control of the governor’s mansion and one in control of the Legislature keeps checks and balances in the process. Smith said Republicans need to at least hold their own as far as having districts that allow members of their party to be elected.

Smith also mentioned the importance of the District 3 House of Representatives race.

“I believe we need a more responsible government in Washington,” he said. “We need to elect some people to replace the incumbents who have not done a good job.”

In addition, Smith highlighted the Public Regulation Commission and state land office elections.

“The Public Regulation Commission can save a lot of money, and a good land commissioner can make a lot of money for the state,” he said.

Render said the attorney general race is also significant because that official determines who is prosecuted in the state and so impacts the justice system.