Deadline to request absentee ballot for 2022 election approaches
For voters who would prefer not to stand in line at the polls, would like to reduce their risk of COVID exposure, or who would like to take their time filling out their ballot, this Thursday, Nov. 3, is the last day to request an absentee ballot for the general election. For those who already have one in hand, election officials recommend mailing it back even sooner.
The state saw record absentee ballots cast in the 2020 general election. Bureau of Elections Administrator for Bernalillo County Nathan Jaramillo said that pandemic uptick has stuck around.
“I believe it became more apparent — the streamlined nature of voting absentee — during the pandemic,” he said. “Because so many people were quarantined at home, they avoided the lines, they avoided the rush.”
In the last midterm elections, which were before the pandemic in 2018, 68,376 New Mexicans voted absentee, according to state canvassing records. As of Monday, more than 105,000 people have requested an absentee ballot for this year’s election and, with Election Day still a week out, over 55,000 — nearly a quarter of all early voters — have cast one, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.
Though far fewer people are staying home to avoid COVID exposure these days, Jaramillo said there’s another benefit some see to voting absentee.
“It’s a great option in terms of reviewing all of the candidates and questions in the convenience and security of your own home,” he said. “And taking the time to make an educated decision.”
While Nov. 3 is the last day to request an absentee ballot, election officials recommend mailing one back on or before Nov. 2. By Wednesday, Jaramillo said, the only sure bet ballots will arrive on time is to drop them off.
“Once you put it in the mailbox, it could take a couple of days to get back to our office, it could take more than that, we can’t really say,” he said.
Voters themselves, their caregivers or immediate family members can hand deliver absentee ballots to any polling location or ballot drop box. Source New Mexico reports six rural counties will only have one drop box available this election, rather than the required two, after being approved for a reduction by the Secretary of State’s Office.
No matter how they’re returned, ballots must be received by 7 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 8, to be counted.
Once mailed or dropped off, voters can track the status of their absentee ballot, including whether it's been received and when it’s been accepted, on the Secretary of State’s voter portal.
Those who requested an absentee ballot but, for any reason, would now prefer to vote in person can do so by simply letting a poll worker know upon arriving at a voting center. If the absentee ballot has already been mailed, but not yet received, the voter must sign an affidavit voiding that ballot before casting another in person.
The Your New Mexico Government project is a collaboration between KUNM and New Mexico PBS with support from the Thornburg Foundation.