By The Associated Press
Democrats have consolidated control over all three branches of state government since Lujan Grisham succeeded a termed-out Republican governor, including commanding majorities in the Legislature. Joe Biden won the state by 11 percentage points in 2020, but Republicans at the same time unseated a one-term Democratic congresswoman in a district along the U.S. border with Mexico.
New Mexico’s top race pits incumbent Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham against former network television meteorologist Mark Ronchetti. Ronchetti ran unsuccessfully for Senate in 2020 while coming within 6 percentage points of an experienced rival from a Democratic political dynasty. Lujan Grisham, a former congresswoman, won 57% of the vote for governor in 2018 — a margin of 14 percentage points. Republicans have poured money into the governor’s race in the final months of 2022 campaigning, amid dueling attack ads from independent political committees.
Three first-term congresswomen are seeking reelection as New Mexico’s House delegation in newly redrawn districts that divvy up the politically conservative southeastern corner of the state — a premier U.S. production zone for petroleum. Democratic incumbents are viewed as safe in the state’s central and northern districts.
In the 2nd Congressional District, Republican Rep. Yvette Herrell is running on a conservative platform of strict border security and unfettered support for the oil industry against Democratic nominee Gabe Vasquez and his campaign for more equitable access to economic opportunity, a humanitarian approach to immigration and greater accountability for climate change. The district stretches from the U.S. border with Mexico across desert oilfields and portions of Albuquerque.
In an open race for attorney general, Democrats are backing the well-known district attorney from the state’s largest city. Republicans have held the office only three times in the state’s 110-year history. Incumbent Democratic Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver is running against first-time candidate Audrey Trujillo, a Republican allied with a coalition that seeks large-scale changes to elections administration.
In the state House of Representatives, Democrats are defending a 45-24 majority as one unaffiliated legislator and the House speaker retire. Voters also are considering a constitutional amendment that could increase funding for early childhood and K-12 education by hundreds of millions of dollars if it is approved statewide referendum.
Here’s a look at what to expect on election night:
Polls close at 7 p.m. local time (9 p.m. ET).
HOW NEW MEXICO VOTES
Most of New Mexico votes prior to Election Day, either by voting early in-person at a vote center or by delivering an absentee ballot to the county elections office or polling place. Voters can cast a ballot in person on Election Day, though that is a minority of voters overall. In the 2020 general election, nearly 85% of voters cast ballots prior to Election Day.
Polls on Election Day close at 9 p.m. Eastern time, with the first results coming in by 9:30 p.m. ET. 90% of the vote was counted by 1:30 a.m. ET on Wednesday, with the remaining votes counted in 2020 by 7:30 p.m. ET. That speed comes, in part, because elections officials can start validating absentee ballots starting five days prior to Election Day. This means the elections officials make sure the ballot is cast legally. Absentee ballots are counted once polls close on Election Day.
The most populous counties in New Mexico are Bernalillo, Dona Ana, Santa Fe and Sandoval. Albuquerque is located in Bernalillo County. Democratic strongholds are in and around Albuquerque and Santa Fe, while much of the rest of the state favors Republicans.
AP will tabulate and declare winners in 55 contested elections in New Mexico, including Governor, three U.S. House races, seven other statewide races and six statewide ballot issues. In the 2020 general election, AP first reported results just before 9:30 p.m. ET. By noon Wednesday, the day after Election Day, more than 98% of all votes were counted in 2020. All votes were tallied by 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
The AP does not make projections and will only declare a winner when it’s determined there is no scenario that would allow the trailing candidates to close the gap.
Should a candidate declare victory or offer a concession before the AP calls a race, we will cover newsworthy developments in our reporting. In doing so, we will make clear that the AP has not declared a winner and explain why.
The AP may call a statewide or U.S. House race in which the margin between the top two candidates is 0.5% or less, if we determine the lead is too large for a recount to change the outcome.
The AP will not call down-ballot races on election night if the margin between the top two candidates is less than 2%. AP will revisit those races later in the week to confirm there aren’t enough outstanding votes left to count that could change the outcome.
WHAT ELSE SHOULD I KNOW?
Redistricting after the 2020 census has made U.S. House District 2 more competitive, by adding more Democrats to the district. The seat has flipped between parties in the last two elections.
We know that the next New Mexico treasurer will be named Montoya. We just don’t know the first name. The race is between Democrat Laura Montoya and Republican Harry Montoya.
Q: WHAT’S CHANGED SINCE THE PANDEMIC ELECTION OF 2020?
A: State law now allows for same-day voter registration at a precinct once a voter affirms not having voted elsewhere. The law also creates automatic voter registration at the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Q: WHAT DO TURNOUT AND ADVANCE VOTE LOOK LIKE?
A: As of Sept. 30, 2022, there were 1,358,032 registered voters in New Mexico, including 601,197 registered Democrats, 422,567 registered Republicans and 305,769 registered independents. As of Oct. 24, New Mexico voters have requested 94,524 absentee ballots and 23,450 have been returned. Additionally, 60,088 voters have cast early-in-person ballots.
New Mexico requires all absentee ballots, whether from voters in the U.S. or voters overseas, to be received by Election Day in order to be counted.
Q: HOW LONG DOES COUNTING USUALLY TAKE?
A: Counting is quick in New Mexico, with more than 98% of all votes counted by noon ET on the day after Election Day. The remaining votes, in 2020, were counted by 7:30 p.m. ET on Thursday.
Q: WHAT ARE THE PITFALLS WITH EARLY RETURNS?
A: There can be a slight shift in votes counted after noon ET on the day after Election Day. In 2018 and 2020, those votes after noon ET on Wednesday were slightly in favor of Democrats, but they shifted the vote totals by less than 1% of the vote. In most races, this is not enough of a shift to affect the outcome of a race, but in especially close races, this may cause AP to delay calling a winner in a particular race. Note as well that the vote shift is not uniform across all counties and all races. Some counties may have no shift toward one candidate or the other, while other counties can see shifts up to 10% of the vote.
Q: WHAT HAPPENS AFTER TUESDAY?
A: New Mexico law provides for mandatory recounts if the gap between the candidates is less than 0.25% for federal, statewide, judicial races and ballot questions. The official county tabulation starts on November 18 while the state tabulation starts on November 29. Candidates requesting a non-mandatory recount must request the recount within six days of the state or county tabulation being finished. The state or county must start the recount within ten days of the request.