46% Voter Turnout Countywide
By Carlos Padilla
Judging by the results of the 2014 General Election, it was the Year of the Elephant – with GOP candidates winning all races for Sierra County-based political offices. Republican candidates picked up several seats in statewide elections as well as in national races.
In New Mexico, voter turnout dropped sharply in the state’s General Election this year.
Last week, The Associated Press reported that unofficial, incomplete returns from the Secretary of State’s Office indicated that nearly 509,000 voters cast ballots. That number represents roughly 39 percent of the state’s registered voters, and would represent the lowest voter turnout rate in decades.
Four years ago, when New Mexico last elected a governor, 607,000 votes were cast. That represented approximately 53 percent of voters registered in the state in 2010.
In 2002, nearly 504,000 total votes were cast statewide in the election, representing a 53-percent voter turnout rate for that year’s number of statewide registered voters.
This year, Sierra County outpaced statewide voter turnout figures. However, a majority of the people didn’t even go to the polls in Sierra County in 2014; most stayed home for the midterm General Election. Of the 8,171 registered voters in Sierra County, there were just 3,749 votes cast, according to the Sierra County Clerk’s Office. That figure represents roughly 46 percent of the registered electorate locally.
The closest race in the county was for the office of the Sierra County Sheriff. At the end of the night, Sierra County Sheriff Lt. Glenn Hamilton squeaked out a victory by a margin of 63 votes. Hamilton, a Republican, received 1,861 votes to Democratic candidate Michael Lanford’s 1,798. In the race for sheriff, Hamilton received 50.86 percent of the votes countywide compared to Lanford’s 49.14 percent.
In the race for the Sierra County Commission District 1 seat, Republican candidate Sherry Fletcher decidedly ousted Democratic incumbent Bobby Allen. Fletcher carried 61.24 percent of the votes with a total of 2,223 votes cast in her favor compared to Allen’s 1,407, representing 38.76 percent of the votes cast in the General Election.
Kenneth Lyon holds the distinction of winning by the largest margin in countywide races. In the race for the Sierra County Commission District 2 seat, the Republican candidate garnered 65.17 percent of the votes cast in that race for a total of 2,335 votes compared to Democratic candidate Robert Parks’ 1,248 (34.83 percent of votes).
With the successful campaigns of these two Republican candidates joining Republican Frances Luna, the Sierra County Commission will be completely Republican.
Mercedes Murphy made history Tuesday night, Nov. 4, by being the first woman elected to the post of Seventh Judicial District Court judge. Murphy took the majority of votes in all counties represented by the Seventh Judicial District with the exception of Socorro County. Murphy, who has been employed as a prosecutor with the Seventh Judicial District Attorney’s Office in Truth or Consequences, faced Democratic challenger Jerry Armijo of Socorro, a 30-year law veteran.
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