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New Mexico: How to Make Sure Your Vote Counts in the 2020 Election

What you need to know, including key deadlines, registration details, and how to vote by mail.

Grace Han/Thrillist

The world, though it complicates further and further with each human innovation, has never been a more accessible place for those who want to become more civically engaged. Get familiar with the voting system now, as you prepare for the 2020 General Election, and be comfortable navigating this crucial societal responsibility for life. 

While your reason for not going to the polls may be different in the COVID-19 era, the deadlines and requirements to do so in New Mexico have stayed the same. Anyone can register from home and vote by mail, or else vote early. Otherwise, the CDC has released some helpful guidelines to make Election Day safer for IRL voters. We've put together a list of all the things you need to know to make sure your voice is heard this election, but don't be afraid to ask your local officials if you need more specific questions answered. Happy voting!

What’s the deadline to register to vote in New Mexico?

The deadline for registering online and by mail is October 6. If registering by mail, your envelope must be postmarked by the 6th or it won't be accepted when it arrives at the election office. If you're registering in person, get your civically engaged arse to the election office by October 31. 

PS: You can check if you're registered here.

How to register to vote in New Mexico

First thing's first: If you want to register online or by mail, your information needs to match what's on file with the New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division. Once everything's matched up, you can update information like your address and party. To register online, go to this portal by October 6, or mail this application to your county clerk's office. To register in person go to the clerk's office and fill out the same form, bringing documentation of your residence like bills printed with your name and address. 

Can I vote early? When does early voting start in New Mexico?

Yes, you can vote early in New Mexico. The early voting period runs from October 6 through October 31, but the concrete dates and hours depend on county, so find out more at NMVote.org or by contacting your county clerk’s office.

Can I vote by mail?

Yes! Anyone eligible to vote in New Mexico can do so by mail, so long as they request an absentee ballot by 5pm on October 20. 

How to request an absentee ballot in New Mexico

You can request a ballot online, by mail, or in person. The Secretary of State has a website that will accept requests until 5pm, October 20. Voters can also print out this absentee ballot request form and send it to their county clerk by October 20, or go to the clerk's office in person and fill it out before the deadline.  

If your application is completed correctly, the state will send you a ballot. If it's not completed correctly, you'll receive a notification that there's a problem within 24 hours of officials receiving it, according to the Secretary of State's absentee voting information page. You can check the status of your absentee ballot online or by contacting your county clerk's office.

How to vote absentee by mail in New Mexico

Once you've received and completed your absentee ballot, you can mail it to your county clerk's office by October 27, drop it off at the clerk's office before the election, or bring it to any polling location during Early Voting or before 7pm on Election Day. The sooner you get your ballot back to election officials, the better.

If, for some reason, you change your mind and would rather vote in person after requesting an absentee ballot, you can still vote in person, but you'll have to fill out an affidavit stating that you won't be voting via the mailed ballot. 

Is there a way to track my absentee ballot? How can I make sure it’s counted?

You can check the status of your absentee ballot via this portal

Beyond that, be sure to carefully read the ballot instructions and meet the aforementioned deadlines. Also, you should avoid tearing or otherwise damaging your voter materials -- you don't want you ballot to be thrown out on some sort of technicality.

How can I stay safe while voting in person?

Polls are open for in-person voting from 7am to 7pm on Election Day. You can locate your polling place online.

It's important for you to review COVID-19 safety guidelines and plan your trip to your polling location accordingly. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention has issued several recommendations for how to keep yourself and others safe while voting in person this November.

Here's a rundown of what the CDC recommends, according to its election guidance page:

  • Wear a mask.
  • Keep a distance of at least six feet from others at all times.
  • Wash your hands both before and after leaving your polling location.
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol frequently throughout your time inside the polling place, especially after you touch things like door hands, voting machines, and other surfaces that lots of other people touch.
  • If you cough or sneeze, cover them with a tissue or the inside of your elbow. Dispose of the tissues in a lined garbage can, then use that 60% alcohol hand sanitizer again.
  • Don't try to disinfect the voting machine or equipment yourself because you may end up damaging them. This is where hand sanitizer comes in handy. Use it after you touch the voting equipment or any other equipment at your precinct. If you use it before you touch the equipment, make sure your hands have dried before casting your ballot or touching any of the equipment present.
  • Try to vote when your polling place isn't at its busiest. This might involve driving by and checking to see how long the line is or making a plan to vote early in the day.
  • Verify that you're registered to vote before you leave home and make sure you bring any documents you'll need to avoid complications that could result in spending more time inside the polling place.
  • Bring your own black ink pen for marking your ballot, or your own stylus (just check with a polling place worker before you use it).
  • If possible, fill out a sample ballot at home that you can use to speed up casting your ballot at the polling location. Knowing who you plan on voting for in each race will save you time inside the polling station.

Additional New Mexico voting resources

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Ruby Anderson is a News Writer at Thrillist. Send your tips to randerson@thrillist.com.