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Election Day has arrived


Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

Today is the last chance for voters to go to the polls or return their absentee ballots in the 2020 elections.

Figures released by the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office early Monday showed 770,596 ballots had already been cast statewide.

Casey Higgins, Chaves County Bureau of Elections chief, on Monday also characterized turnout locally as high. Of the county’s 35,091 registered voters, she said 14,964 already voted in-person during early in-person voting between Oct. 6 and Oct. 31. An additional 3,570 votes cast were in the form of absentee ballots.

“So we have been pretty busy,” she said. Higgins added that as of Monday at noon, 505 absentee ballots issued had still not been returned to the county clerk’s office.

In order to be counted, individuals must have their absentee ballots delivered by 7 p.m. to either the Clerk’s Office in the County Administrative Building at 1 St. Mary’s Place or at any of 11 voting convenience centers scattered throughout the county, Higgins said.

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President Donald Trump, a Republican, is hoping to beat Democratic nominee former Vice President Joe Biden and win a second term in office. Libertarian nominee Jo Jorgensen and Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins are also mounting presidential bids.

Locally, few races on the ballot are being contested. In House District 59, state Rep. Greg Nibert, R-Roswell, is running for a third term. He faces Democrat Kimble Lee Kearns, a trustee for the village of Capitan and a vice-chair of the Democratic Party of Lincoln County. The district is comprised of portions of Chaves and Lincoln Counties.

One state Senator representing Chaves County also has an opponent in the general election. State Sen. Bill Burt, R-Alamogordo, of Senate District 33, faces a challenge from Democrat Denise Lang-Browne of La Luz to represent the district which includes parts of Chaves, Lincoln and Otero counties.

None of Chaves County’s other legislators — all Republicans — face general election opposition. Those lawmakers are state Reps. Candy Ezzell of Roswell in House District 58, House Minority Leader Jim Townsend of Artesia in House District 54, Phelps Anderson of Roswell in House District 66, Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle of Portales in Senate District 27, Sen. Cliff Pirtle of Roswell in Senate District 32 and Sen. Gay Kernan of Hobbs in Senate District 42.

In County races, only Republicans are on the ballot in Chaves County. Members of the Chaves County Board of Commissioners T. Calder Ezzell Jr. in District 2 and Jeff Bilberry of District 3 are up for re-election, while former Commissioner Richard Taylor is running for the District 4 seat he once held. The seat is currently occupied by Commissioner Robert Corn. Corn is unable to run for re-election because of term limits.

Candidate for County Clerk Cindy Fuller and incumbent County Treasurer Charlotte Andrade are also unopposed.

Incumbents in New Mexico’s 5th Judicial District in Chaves County also do not face opponents in their bids to retain their offices. District Attorney Dianna Luce, a Republican, is unchallenged in her campaign for another term.

Four judges in Chaves County are also poised to continue their service on the bench. District Judge Thomas Lilley of Division 2 and Judge Jared Kallunki of Division 8, both Democrats, do not have challengers. Judges James Hudson of Division 6 and Dustin Hunter of Division 10 are on the ballot in judicial retention races.

More competitive races are up higher on the ballot. In the race for the U.S. Senate, Congressman Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District faces former KRQE meteorologist Republican Mark Ronchetti to succeed retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Udall. Libertarian Bob Walsh is also running for the seat.

In one of the most competitive races for the U.S. House of Representatives in the country, U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, D-NM, is locked in a rematch with her 2018 general election opponent Republican Yvette Herrell, a former state representative from Alamogordo. Steve Jones, an Independent from Ruidoso is also mounting a campaign for the seat. Torres Small in 2018 edged out Herrell by about 2% in a district that Trump had carried by 10.5% in 2016.

Two seats on the New Mexico Supreme Court will be up for grabs, both now held by justices appointed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. Shannon Bacon, a Democrat, will try and stave off a challenge from Republican Ned Fuller for position one on the court.

Another Democrat, Justice David Thomson, will also be on the ballot looking to fend off a challenge from Republican Kerry Morris.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301 or breakingnews@rdrnews.com.

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

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