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County voters have much better turnout in primaries

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Lisa Dunlap Photo Chaves County has recorded about a 41% turnout for the primaries, according to preliminary information.

Chaves County experienced a strong turnout for the primary elections compared to other recent primaries, according to preliminary information available from the New Mexico Secretary of State Office.

Official results will be available in a week or more after county and state verification.

“I believe that we had a great turnout for a primary election,” said Chaves County Clerk Dave Kunko.

The Secretary of State’s office is reporting that 10,626 county voters cast ballots either by absentee voting, early voting or in-person voting on Tuesday. That’s 40.6% of the 26,174 registered voters in the county.

For the 2020 primary, Chaves County ranked 20th among the state’s 33 counties for voter turnout. Statewide, 366,666 voters participated in the primaries, or about 37% of all voters.

Kunko said the county also has about 101 provisional ballots. Those are ballots that are given to voters if there is some question about their registration or whether they already voted by some other means. Whether those will be counted will be determined during a June 9 meeting to canvass the election.

The county’s primary turnout was significantly lower in 2016, another year in which candidates for U.S. president were on the ballot. That year, turnout in the county was about 28%. Kunko said about 7,100 voters participated. For the 2012 primary election with presidential candidates, turnout was 25%, according to a Daily Record news article, which quotes the county clerk at the time, Rhoda Coakley.

Most of the local voters during this year’s primary focused on the national-level races for U.S. president, U.S. senator and the 2nd Congressional District House of Representatives seat. The presidential race received 10,414 votes. The U.S. Senate contest had 10,005 ballots cast, and the 2nd Congressional District race was participated in by 10,135 voters.

For the countywide races, the clerk’s race received the most voter interest, with 7,587 ballots. An unopposed race for Chaves County treasurer received 6,558 votes, while the unopposed race for the New Mexico 5th Judicial District Attorney’s office garnered 6,553 votes.

To keep up with coverage of this and other 2020 elections of local and regional interest, go to rdrnews.com/category/news/elections/.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.