Early voting heavy

CNJ Staff Photo: Tony Bullocks Jill Whitehead, center, passes out absentee ballot to board members Monday, to verify that the ballots meet New Mexico qualifications. According to Beni Dampier, Curry County election coordinator, more people cast early votes this year than in 2004.

CNJ Staff

As the polls open today, officials said about 40 percent of registered voters have already cast their ballots during early voting.

With the remainder of voters having 12 hours in which to vote and being divided among 37 precincts in the county, County Election Administrator Connie Jo Lyman said officials do not expect long delays at the polls today.

The polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

First thing in the morning, lunchtime and evening when people get off work will be the most congested times to go to the polls, she said.

Traditionally between 50 and 75 percent of registered voters turn out for presidential elections, Lyman said.

Lyman said 6,273 residents voted early in person at the end of early voting Saturday, an increase of nearly 1,000 from the 2004 presidential election.

And as of Friday, 2,021 of 2,531 mail-in absentee ballots had been received, she said.

The phone was ringing off the hook at the clerk’s office Monday with questions pouring in from voters, Lyman said.

“We’re fielding an awful lot of general question calls. It has been chaos over here,” she said. The remainder of the day was spent “making sure that we have our i’s dotted and our t’s crossed,” she said.

In addition to the presidential race, today’s election includes three county commission seats, county treasurer, county clerk, two state representitive seats, two senate seats and U.S. senate and house seats.