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Early absentee voting begins in New Mexico

October 8, 2018

Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate Gary Johnson, right, talks with disabled military veteran Henry Pacheco during a campaign stop in Tucumcari, N.M. Former governor of New Mexico and two-time presidential candidate Gary Johnson says he would act as an influential swing vote and a voice of reason in a bitterly divided Senate.AP Photo/Morgan Lee)

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Early absentee voting begins Tuesday in New Mexico as registration comes to a close in a gubernatorial election that will help determine the balance of power in Congress.

Voters initially can obtain paper mail-in ballots or vote directly in person at county clerk offices through the state. Additional locations for voting ahead of Election Day open on Oct. 20.

Tuesday also is the last day for eligible residents to register to vote in this election.

Nearly 30,000 people registered during September, leaving overall registration at about 1.25 million people, according to the New Mexico secretary of state’s office.

Statewide turnout is typically much heavier during presidential election years — roughly 804,000 in 2016 versus 520,000 in 2014.

New Mexico is picking a successor to Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, who cannot run for a third consecutive term.

Republican Congressman Steve Pearce is competing against Democratic Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham in the run for governor. Neither is running for re-election to Congress, leaving two open seats.

Republican state Rep. Yvette Herrell is competing against attorney Xochitl Torres Small in the southern 2nd Congressional District, while former Democratic Party chairwoman Debra Haaland confronts former state lawmaker Janice Arnold-Jones in the Albuquerque-based 1st Congressional District.

In heavily Democratic northern New Mexico, U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan is seeking a sixth term against Republican Jerald McFall and Libertarian Christopher Manning. Lujan leads a major political committee that helps Democrats seeking election to Congress.

Incumbent Democratic Sen. Martin Heinrich is defending his seat in a three-way race against Republican political newcomer and construction contractor Mick Rich and Libertarian former Gov. Gary Johnson.

In races for statewide office, incumbent Democrats are defending jobs as attorney general, secretary of state and state treasurer, while a Republican appointee is seeking election as state auditor.

Democrats account for about 46 percent of registered voters, while 30 percent identify as Republicans.

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