San Juan County's voter turnout rate for midterm election matches 2018 number

No issues reported at voting convenience centers across county

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — Turnout for Tuesday’s midterm election in San Juan County was remarkably consistent with turnout four years earlier during the last midterm election, according to figures released by the County Clerk’s Office.

The percentage of registered voters who took part in each election was 51%, County Clerk Tanya Shelby said. The number of people who voted was a little higher this time, with 40,158 county voters casting a ballot in 2022 as opposed to the 37,575 who participated last time.

But the number of voters who cast a ballot on election day in both instances was nearly identical — 17,766 in 2022 and 17,833 in 2018.

The difference this year was that 19,584 people voted early, compared to 17,897 who did so four years ago. And 2,808 people cast an absentee ballot in 2022, as opposed to the 1,843 who voted absentee in 2018.

Shelby said 3,133 absentee ballots were mailed to voters this year, and 2,808 of them were returned, with 58 voters casting a replacement ballot — a return rate of 92%. She said 94% of the absentee ballots that mistakenly were mailed to voters without a return address nevertheless made their way back to the County Clerk’s Office. Historically, Shelby said, absentee ballots have a return rate of 92% to 94%.

There were no issues reported on Election Day in San Juan County, County Clerk Tanya Shelby says, although there were some reports of short waits to vote at the Farmington Museum at Gateway Park.

Until the COVID-19 pandemic took place in 2020, she said, absentee voting numbers were trending downward across the county as more voters opted to vote in person.

Overall, Election Day in San Juan County went smoothly, she said, with workers at the County Clerk’s Office finishing counting ballots and retiring for the day by around midnight. She said no issues were reported at any of the county’s 33 voting convenience centers, although she said there were reports of short waits to vote at the Farmington Museum at Gateway Park, which she said historically has served as the most popular voting convenience center in the county.

People were lined up shortly after 2:30 p.m. on Nov. 8 to vote at the Farmington Museum.

Representatives of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice had announced Nov. 7 they would be monitoring compliance with the federal Voting Right Act in 64 jurisdictions in 25 states, including San Juan County in New Mexico. But Shelby said she was not contacted about any concerns the DOJ may have had about the election here.

Shelby said there were a lot of voters who registered and voted on the same day, with 257 of them voting early and 351 of them doing so on Election Day for a total of 608. She said New Mexico has only offered same-day registration during the last two elections, and the county’s poll workers are still adjusting to the system.

Tanya Shelby

“It’s a challenge for our poll workers,” she said, noting that the time it takes to register the new voters, confirm their eligibility and then get them a ballot can be lengthy, slowing down the experience for other voters. “That’s my concern. We have to make sure we have a good flow because it’s a longer process for them.”

During its meeting at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 15, at the County Administration Building in Aztec, the San Juan County Commission will consider adopting a resolution declaring that date Election Worker Appreciation Day. Shelby said she encouraged commissioners to honor poll workers, many of whom across the country have reported being harassed and intimidated.

“They don’t get the recognition they deserve for the job they do in general,” she said. “It’s a difficult job.”

Traffic on East main Street passes a collection of campaign signs near the Farmington Museum at Gateway Park on Election Day, Nov. 8.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 ormeasterling@daily-times.com. Support local journalism with a digital subscription: http://bit.ly/2I6TU0e.