Absentee voting begins in New Mexico

Posted at: 10/09/2012 5:49 PM
Updated at: 10/10/2012 9:12 AM
By: Stuart Dyson, Eyewitness News 4

Don't look now, but it's Election Day in New Mexico, with absentee voting beginning all across the state.

The busiest absentee location in New Mexico is the Bernalillo County Annex at Lomas Boulevard and 7th Street NW in Downtown Albuquerque, and the place was jumping with activity through most of the day on Tuesday. In fact, it was the busiest first day poll workers have seen since absentee voting started more than a decade ago.

When all is said and done, over half of us, maybe over 60 percent, will cast ballots before the election this time around.

It was Celesta Black's birthday, and her first time ever voting.

"I never went out and voted, so I told my son I'm gonna vote, I'm gonna vote, and today I'm going to," Black said. "It's very important to us, we're middle class people, and I'm 51 today and I need to vote!"

"To me it's been easier to vote early," said Victor Padilla. "It's easier, it's a lot smoother. You go through, everybody's in a good mood, the pressure is off and you can even go through the bonds and maybe do 'em justice!"

"It's a shorter line, a quicker process, a more painless voting process than when we were limited strictly to Election Day," said Bernalillo County Clerk, Maggie Toulouse Oliver. "Folks can remember going back ten years and having to wait in really long lines on Election Day."

Early Voting will move into warp-speed on October 20 when 16 other Early Vote locations will open around Bernalillo County. They will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Old-fashioned Election day is November 6.

"It's a little more work on our part," said Toulouse Oliver. "And by a little I mean a huge amount! Especially starting on the 20th, it'll be like Election Day every day here in Bernalillo County. But again, it enables us to help the voter better."

Back in the 2008 presidential election, about 61 percent of New Mexico's eligible voters cast ballots. In Bernalillo County the turnout was higher - about 72 percent. if Tuesday's action is any indication, it could be even higher this time.