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Early and absentee voting begins across New Mexico

Early and absentee voting begins across New Mexico

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Early voting began Tuesday across New Mexico on a limited scale at county clerk's offices, as election regulators began mailing absentee ballots by request to registered voters.

More than a dozen people formed a line to cast ballots outside the Santa Fe County Clerk's office, including U.S. Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández as she seeks reelection in a race against Republican engineer Alexis Martinez Johnson.

Many counties will add more early voting locations on Oct. 22. Polls close Nov. 6-7 prior to Election Day on Nov. 8.

Three first-term congresswomen are seeking reelection in contested New Mexico races, as voters also consider a long list of candidates for statewide elected offices, including governor, attorney general and secretary of state.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is seeking a second term in office against GOP nominee Mark Ronchetti in a contest highlighting concerns about urban crime, abortion access and spending priorities amid a windfall in state government income from oilfield production.

Ronchetti hopes to unseat the incumbent governor with calls for a new approach to combatting crime amid a record-setting spate of homicides in Albuquerque and a proposal to provide annual rebates linked to oil and natural gas production.

Lujan Grisham has cast herself as crucial advocate for expanding early childhood education, tuition-free college and continued access to abortion. In 2021, she overturned a dormant state ban on most abortion procedures, while Ronchetti wants a statewide referendum in an effort to ban abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy with limited exceptions.

In southern New Mexico, Republican U.S. Rep. Yvette Herrell is seeking a second term in a congressional district that has been redrawn in ways that could help Democrats by adding portions of Albuquerque and dividing a politically conservative oil-producing region. Democratic Las Cruces Councilman Gabe Vasquez hopes to reclaim the swing district that Republicans flipped in 2020.

In the secretary of state's race, incumbent Democrat Maggie Toulouse Oliver is seeking reelection after expanding ballot access through same-day registration against Republican nominee Audrey Trujillo, a proponent of new voter ID requirements and new restrictions on absentee voting.

New Mexico's primary election in June drew national attention when a handful of rural counties considered delaying certification of the results, as angry crowds gave voice to unproven conspiracy theories about voting systems.

Albuquerque-based District Attorney Raul Torrez is vying in an open race for attorney general against Republican attorney and U.S. Marine veteran Jeremy Michael Gay of Gallup.

Voters will also decide on a statewide ballot referendum that would increase spending on K-12 schools and early childhood education by about $200 million a year through greater distributions from the state's oil-based permanent fund.

The entire state House is up for election. Democrats are defending a 45-seat majority, with 24 Republicans and one unaffiliated legislator.

In recent elections, Democrats have consolidated control over every statewide office, the state Supreme Court and broad majorities in the state House and Senate.