Posted at: 05/28/2014 5:51 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4
More and more New Mexicans are registering to vote – but whether they will actually show up to cast ballots in next week’s primary election is the big question. One reason is that many of them won’t be allowed to vote.
The latest registration figures from the Secretary of State’s office show a 6.6 percent increase in registered voters since the last primary elections. But almost one-fifth of the voters can’t vote in the primaries. Those elections are reserved for registered Democrats and Republicans only. Right now there are almost 600,000 Democrats – 47 percent of the state’s voters – and nearly 400,000 Republicans, or about 31 percent. Independents make up 19 percent of the voting population, but they are not allowed to cast ballots in the Democratic and Republican primaries. Third party members make up about three percent of the state’s voters.
More young voters, aged 18 to 24, are registering as Independents now instead of signing up as either Democrats or Republicans, according to Brian Sanderoff of the Albuquerque-based Research & Polling Inc. Independents are also the fastest growing segment of the voting population in recent years.
"Everybody should have an opportunity to vote," said William Guenther of Albuquerque, minutes after early-voting at Glenwood Hills shopping center off Tramway. "Just because you’re not registered as a Democrat or a Republican shouldn’t limit your ability to vote for somebody."
Altogether there are almost 1 million registered Democrats and Republicans who are eligible to vote in the party primaries. If recent election trends hold true, only about 200,000 to 250,000 of them will bother to vote. Among them already is Mary Koker of Albuquerque, who turned up at Glenwood Hills to cast her ballot just days after major thyroid surgery.
"Everybody needs to vote, just like I got out here to do it," Koker said. "I encourage everybody to vote so that they can have a voice in the outcome."