Three hours after the polls closed, Santa Fe County's election returns were not yet available.

That means the top-of-the ticket race many were watching closest—the Democratic nomination for the 3rd Congressional District—lacked reporting on at least 32,000 votes. So did  multi-county legislative districts and other races, where winners also remained unclear.

Early returns as of 10 pm showed Santa Fe lawyer Teresa Leger Fernandez leading in that congressional race with 33% of the tabulated votes in 14 of the 16 counties that the district reaches. State Sen. Joseph Sanchez, who lives in Alcalde, trailed for second with 22% of votes, and former spy Valerie Plame, also a Santa Fe resident, carried nearly 21%.

On the Republican side, it appeared former weatherman Mark Ronchetti won the nomination handily.

The contest for 1st Judicial District attorney leaned in favor of Mary Carmack-Altwies in early returns from Los Alamos and Rio Arriba counties. Santa Fe is the third county in the district. Carmack-Altwies led over Scott Fuqua with about 57% of tabulated votes.

Elections officials had warned the returns would be slow given the large number of absentee ballots sent in by mail. More than 376,000 New Mexicans had voted in the election as of the 5 pm update from the Secretary of State. Of those, 18% were cast on Election Day. In Santa Fe County, more than 38,000 ballots have been cast, with just 15% on Election Day.

State House District 50's Democratic Party contest early returns numbered a low 1,110 votes, with incumbent Rep. Matthew McQueen only slightly leading challenger Rebecca King-Spindle with 51% of votes. The district includes parts of four counties, but the largest section is in Santa Fe County.

County Clerk Geraldine Salazar told SFR on Monday a vendor mailed out 39,062 absentee ballots. As of the last report from the state, 28,461 had been returned.