About 786,500 people voted in the November general election—nearly 47,000 fewer than in the hotly contested 2008 presidential election year when New Mexico was considered a battleground state.
The turnout rate was the lowest since the 2000 presidential election, when 63 percent of registered voters cast ballots. Turnout was 70 percent in 2008 and 2004.
In contrast to the race four years ago, New Mexico was largely ignored by the Democratic and GOP presidential contenders. They made no campaign stops in the state during the final weeks of the race. President Barack Obama visited the state in March to talk about energy policy and Republican Mitt Romney appeared in Hobbs in August to outline his energy policies.
Albuquerque pollster Brian Sanderoff attributed the decline in the number of voters to a lack of excitement among the electorate about the candidates. He said turnout fell in both Democratic-leaning counties as well as those that traditionally favor Republicans.
"I think there were some liberals who stayed at home and some conservatives as well, who didn't think Romney was as conservative as they would have liked. So the lower turnout affected both the Democrats and the Republicans," Sanderoff said in a telephone interview Friday.
He said the lower turnout rate this year partly reflects the state's inflated voter registration rolls. The state hasn't recently purged from the list people who have moved out of New Mexico or who have not voted in several elections.
Official statewide election returns were released Friday after the state Canvassing Board received the results from the secretary of state's office and certified winners—except in one legislative race that has a recount pending.
The Canvassing Board is made up of the governor, the secretary of state and the chief justice of the state Supreme Court.
The board will meet Monday to certify the recount in a state House race between Republican Paul Pacheco, of Albuquerque, and Democrat Marci Blaze, of Corrales. Before the recount, Pacheco was leading by 66 votes. The legislative district includes parts of Bernalillo and Sandoval counties.
A recount ended Thursday in a Las Cruces-area race with Republican Rep. Terry McMillan winning by eight votes over Democrat Joanne Ferrary. The race previously was tied.
If Pacheco wins, Democrats will have a 38-32 edge over the GOP in the state House of Representatives.
Democrats currently have a 36-33 majority in the House, and there's one independent.
Republicans are challenging the outcome of a state Senate race in the Rio Rancho area near Albuquerque and contests for two Sandoval County offices.
Senate candidate David Doyle and other Republicans asked a district court in Sandoval County on Friday to declare Doyle the winner over Democratic incumbent John Sapien. Official results showed Sapien winning by 162 votes. The GOP said another option is for the court to order a new election.
The lawsuit contends that Doyle and other GOP candidates lost because of voting problems that suppressed turnout in Republican-leaning precincts. There were long lines at polling locations in the Rio Rancho area on Election Day because of a lack of voting equipment, and the Republicans contend that Doyle would have won in "a fair and open election, without error or fraud."
Democrats will hold a 25-17 majority in the Senate next year, including Sapien's re-election.
Scott Forrester, executive director of the state Democratic Party, said the party had no comment until lawyers finished reviewing the GOP court case.
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