County clerks busy preparing for upcoming election

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Jennifer Martinez of Clovis visited the Curry County clerks office Tuesday to change her address in her voting registration information. Martinez, a speech therapist, said she plans to vote early.

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

A week before the deadline, the Curry County clerk’s office has been busy processing a steady flow of voter registrations, according to Connie Jo Lyman, director of elections.

“Voter registrations are coming out of the woodwork,” she said.

Though the final numbers to make a solid comparison aren’t in just yet, she said it seems like there are more people registering for the upcoming general election.

“This election will make history one way or another and I think everybody wants to be a part of it,” she said, referring to the tight race between John McCain and Barack Obama.

Voters will elect either the first woman vice president — McCain running mate Sarah Palin — or Obama the first black president.

The looming crisis as financial markets struggle to stay afloat in the wake of a soured mortgage market has also intensified the race.

As of Monday, there were 21,250 Curry County residents registered to vote — 10,262 Republicans and 8,053 Democrats.

And Lyman said there were more than 600 registration cards in the clerk’s office that still needed to be processed.

In the 2006 gubernatorial election, the clerk’s office reported there were 21,058 registered voters in Curry County — 10,238 Republicans and 8,080 Democrats.

Third-party registrars have been actively working to sign up voters and some candidates have even sent registration cards in the mail to try and drum up new registrations, Lyman said.

The Democratic Party of New Mexico said efforts to register voters have been going strong since the primaries ended.

“Whether it’s registering voters at county fairs, groceries stores or even door to door, Democrats are reaching out to new voters,” said Brian S. Colon, chairman of the Democratic Party of New Mexico, by e-mail.

Rube Render, chairman of the Curry County Republican Party, said local supporters are always working to register people.

He said they set up a registration table at local high school graduations this spring and also had a booth at the Curry County Fair.

Those wanting to vote in the election have until 5 p.m. Tuesday to register or make changes to their existing registration. Absentee voting in person will begin immediately following the close of registration, Lyman said.