County clerk’s office full of early voters

Staff and Wire reports

Staff and wire reports
About 20 percent of Roosevelt County’s registered voters have already weighed in on the 2004 general election, assistant county clerk Janet Collins said Wednesday.
She said 2,400 voters had either cast their ballots or requested a ballot by mail as of Wednesday night. The county has 11,591 registered voters. Early voting continues through Saturday.
“It’s going very well,” said Collins, who is running unopposed for the clerk’s position from which Joyce Fraze is about to retire. “We’ve had a heavy turnout, more than I can ever remember us having absentee in the 12 years I’ve been here and we’re very pleased with that. We’ve put in a lot of overtime, but we’re pleased people are voting and taking an interest in this election.”
Collins said she thinks the early turnout is a good indicator that Tuesday’s Election Day will also be busy.
“Just from the people that have come in, I think people are more concerned about this election than they have been in some time,” she said. “I think they’re taking this one a bit more seriously than in the past.”
Since Roosevelt County has only a few contested races, Collins said she believes the presidential race is driving the interest.
The New Mexico attorney general’s office this week approved a proposal to let county clerks begin opening absentee ballot envelopes at 12:01 a.m. on Election Day rather than waiting until polls open at 7 a.m.
But Collins said she doubts Roosevelt County officials will start counting that early.
She said members of the precinct board who count the early returns will determine later this week when they begin the count. But she said they may be able to come in at noon and be finished by the time polls close at 7 p.m.
Larger counties are expected to take advantage of the AG’s ruling.
Officials have estimated New Mexico’s most populous county — Bernalillo — could see close to 75,000 absentee votes.