By Rachael Rivera and Derrick Toledo / NM News Port
Local voters head to the polls Tuesday to choose a governor and a slew of statewide candidates. They also decide whether small amounts of marijuana should be legalized and whether more mental health programs should be funded.
Additionally, voters will consider bonds, ballot measures and constitutional amendments.
So far, voting has been brisk. As of Nov. 1, when early and absentee voting ended, 213,932 people voted early and 47,349 people returned their absentee ballots. Some 64,415 absentee ballots were originally sent out, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.
“You don’t get to decide where you start, you don’t get to decide who your family is, you don’t get to decide lots of stuff, but this is something you do get to decide,” said UNM senior Luke Padilla.
“Even if it’s just one vote out of the 500,000 in Albuquerque. You get to decide, you get to take a part in what happens to your life and that’s important,” said Padilla, who has voted in the past and plans to do so again.
In the gubernatorial race, voters choose between Republican incumbent Susana Martinez and her running mate, John Sanchez or her opponent and his running mate, Democrat Gary King and Debra Haaland.
UNM sophomore Aaron Hagler is excited to vote for his first time.
“Obviously the governor is very important to me. I’m a young person in this state right now and I feel like all of us voting we really have a chance to change the direction and the fate of our state if we choose to.”
The hottest issues facing the governor’s race this election is New Mexico’s economy, minimum wage and school reforms.
As of late October, an Albuquerque Journal poll showed Martinez leading King 53 to 38 percent.
Another UNM senior, Jonathan Cruz, is more turned off than interested in voting this year.
“I have not voted before in an official election. I’m not registered to vote. I came from a household where my father was a big Republican thought process of where he was like ‘you must vote.’ My mother was an Independent so she’s declared Independent so she doesn’t vote. So I was raised whether you vote or not as your choice.”
Voters also will choose a between Republican incumbent Dianna Duran and Democrat Maggie Toulouse Oliver for secretary of state.
The two are neck and neck in a recent poll from the Albuquerque Journal, which shows each candidate getting 42 percent. The 16 percent of undecided voters play a key role.
Another tight race according to the Albuquerque Journal is in the land commissioner race between Democrat incumbent Ray Powell and Republican Aubrey Dunn. Powell trailed Dunn 40 to 39 percent, with some 20 percent of voters polled by the Journal in that race were undecided.
In recent ads, Dunn has criticised Powell for what he called poor management of the state’s public lands and his handling of New Mexico’s Dixon Apple Orchard fire.
Voters will also decide on races for U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, state auditor, state treasurer and attorney general.
Hagler encourages others to vote.
“I tell people it’s so important. I was listening to the radio in Spanish yesterday. They said that, ‘the person who doesn’t vote doesn’t speak.’ That’s our way of speaking up and saying what we want as a people. I always stress that to people.”
According to an Albuquerque Journal poll, the U.S. Senate race has tightened with 50 percent of people polled favoring Tom Udall versus 43 percent in favor of Allen Weh.
Brian Gillespie, an assistant professor at the Robert Anderson School of Management encouraged everyone to vote as well.
“Get educated, be informed, learn about the issues and understand what’s important to you; then go and make your voice heard,” he said.[/text_output][share title=”Share this Post” facebook=”true” twitter=”true” google_plus=”true” linkedin=”true” pinterest=”true”][/vc_column][/vc_row]