Absentee Spree

As early voting kicks up, county clerk projects large number of absentee ballots

As the Nov. 7 Election Day creeps closer, more than 4,300 people have already voted in local contests and mailed ballots are trending toward a record number for the county. Most voters who have already cast ballots did so during last weekend’s rollout of in-person locations across Santa Fe County, but the flow of voters into county Clerk Katharine E. Clark’s office has also increased in recent days, she tells SFR.

“I think it definitely picked up,” Clark says. “We’re seeing around the noon hour it gets really busy, and then you get this kind of quiet between 1 pm and 4 pm, and then as we get towards the end the day you see a little busier again.”

According to a real-time portal from the office, so far, 3,450 people have cast ballots in person.

Approximately 61,100 registered voters are eligible to cast ballots in the city for four City Council seats, the municipal judge, a proposed high-end housing excise tax and proposed amendments to the city charter. Seats for the Santa Fe Community College and Santa Fe Public Schools board as well as financing questions for both entities appear on ballots for some voters outside the city limits.

Clark says 5,864 voters requested absentee mail-in ballots by the Oct. 24 deadline, and 936 have been returned so far. In 2019, which was also a city election year featuring council races, 2,458 people voted by mail.

These numbers, she says, point to “an upward trend” in mail-in ballots and what could be a large portion of Santa Feans using the voting method this year.

“Almost 6,000 people have requested an absentee ballot, so if only 25,000 people vote, and that was in a high watermark of a mayoral [election,] we may very well see that one in four voters vote by absentee, which is a lot for New Mexico,” Clark says. “Santa Fe County is very absentee friendly…Our voters have said they like absentee [voting,] and that is demonstrated by the numbers we’re looking at.”

The country clerk advises ballots need at least seven days to travel to voters and another seven to return to the clerk’s office. Because of the high volume of absentee ballots, Clark encourages voters ballots before Oct. 30, as ballots must return to her office before 7 pm on Election Night in order to count. Absentee voters can also hand deliver ballots to secure drop boxes. Learn more here.

Early voting began Oct. 10 at the Santa Fe County Clerk’s Office, with additional locations opening Oct. 21 until Nov. 4. Expanded early voting hours will occur Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm; and Tuesday through Friday from 11 am to 7 pm.

Voters can head to eight different locations outside of the clerk’s office to cast their ballots: Abedon Lopez Community Center Annex, 155B Camino de Quintana, Santa Cruz, ; Christian Life Church, 121 Siringo Road; Town of Edgewood Administrative Office, 171A State Road 344; Max Coll Corridor Community Center, 16 Avenida Torreon; Pojoaque County Satellite Office, 5 West Gutierrez - Ste. 9, Pueblo of Pojoaque Plaza 17839 US-84; Santa Fe County Fair Building, 3229 Rodeo Road; Santa Fe Community College, 6401 Richards Ave.; and the Southside Library, 6599 Jaguar Drive.

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