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Independent voters have opportunity to vote in primaries

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In less than two weeks, absentee and early voting for the 2022 Primary Election begins in New Mexico.

Election day is June 7.

On May 10, voters registered as Republican, Democrat, or Libertarian — all recognized as major political parties in the state — may cast their ballots at the Lea County Courthouse in Lovington. Ballots will list candidates for offices from the county commission to the state’s governor and the U.S. House of Representatives.

Lea County Clerk Keith Manes said voters whose districts have changed due to recent redistricting should receive an information card from the Secretary of State’s office this week.

“If your districts have been changed, you’re going to receive a voter information card in the mail,” Manes said. “You don’t have to do anything. You don’t have to update (your registration). You don’t have to re-register.”

Among changes are districts for state representatives, some county commissioners and the state’s congressional delegation.

Applications for absentee ballots will be accepted any time, but the earliest the ballots will be mailed out will be May 10, Manes said. Absentee ballots must be returned to the county clerk’s office by 7 p.m. on election day.

“They can go ahead and request an application (for an absentee ballot) because it’s a two-step process,” Manes said. “They can actually request their application for an absentee ballot online (at) nmvote.org.”

Online registration also closes on May 10, but New Mexico now has “same day registration,” so voters may register in person when they show up at the polls, either for early voting or on election day.

Manes noted the same day registration, however, requires a photo ID.

Voters currently registered as “decline to select” (DTS) or in a minority party may also cast ballots as long as they change their registration at the polls to affiliate with one of the major parties.

“DTS can change their party affiliation on election day, but a Republican or Democrat (or Libertarian) can’t change theirs,” Manes explained the state law. “People can go in and change their party, vote that day and when the books open again go back and change it to what they were.”

The county clerk explained the Legislature’s reasoning for permitting everyone to vote in the primary elections when in previous cycles non-affiliated voters stayed clear of the polls.

“What their (the legislators’) thing is the taxpayers pay for the election so why shouldn’t everybody be able to vote?” Manes said. “There’s kind of a movement to do away with the primary and let the parties do their own. There was a bill in the last session, but it never went anywhere.”

At the polls, both during early voting and on election day, ballots will be based on the voter’s registered home address and printed out to contain appropriate candidates’ names, according to the registered party affiliation. Sample ballots are available on the New Mexico Secretary of State’s website.

For voters in Lea County, more early voting places will be opened on May 21, then all normal polls will open on election day.

Contested races on ballots for Lea County voters include the following:

• U.S. Representative, District 2: Democrats Gabriel Vasquez and Darshan Nilesh Patel.

• U.S. Representative, District 3: Republicans Alexis Martinez Johnson and Jerald Steve McFall.

• Governor: Libertarians Karen Evette Bedonie and Tim Walsh. Ginger G. Grider is a write-in candidate.

• Governor: Republicans Jay C. Block, Rebecca L. Dow, Gregory Joseph Zanetti, Ethel R. Maharg and Mark V. Ronchetti.

• Lieutenant Governor: Republicans Ant L. Thornton, Peggy L. Muller-Aragón, Isabella Solis, Anastacia Anise Golden Morper and Patrick H. Lyons.

• Attorney General: Democrats Brian S. Colón and Raúl Torrez.

• State Auditor: Democrats Zackary A. Quintero and Joseph M. Maestas.

• State Treasurer: Democrats Laura M. Montoya and Heather R. Benavidez.

• Commissioner of Public Lands: Republicans Jefferson L. Byrd and Aubrey Dunn.

• State Representative District 61: Republicans Rebecca Jill Jones and Randall T. Pettigrew.

• State Representative District 62: Republicans Elaine Sena Cortez and Larry R. Scott.

• Lea County Commission District 2: Republicans Bradley D. Weber, Glenn Biswell and Gary M. Schubert.

Ballots will also include many additional names of unopposed candidates from local magistrate judges to a U.S. representative. Some of those candidates will face opposition in the November General Election, but others with no opposition from any party will pass to the office on Jan. 1, 2023, or as soon after as the oath of office can be administered.

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