Voting Going Smoothly At Polls Across New Mexico, Judge Dismisses Charges Against Treasurer

Nov 8, 2016

Voting Going Smoothly At Polls Across New MexicoThe Associated Press 

Voting around New Mexico is continuing to run smoothly since the polls opened.

Bernalillo County election officials say more than 30,000 voters cast ballots as of noon Tuesday.

More than 180,000 people in the state's most populous county already voted by early ballot.

So far, there have been no reports of long waits or major problems at polling sites.

Meanwhile some candidates are still doing last-minute campaigning including "Breaking Bad" actor Steven Michael Quezada.

The Democratic candidate for Bernalillo County commissioner was seen earlier in the day holding up one of his campaign signs while standing on an Albuquerque street median.

Five electoral votes are at stake for presidential candidates in the nation's most Hispanic state, which heavily supported Barack Obama the last time around.

Judge Dismisses Charges Against Dona Ana County TreasurerThe Associated Press & Las Cruces Sun-News

An Alamogordo District Court judge has dismissed the criminal charges against Dona Ana County Treasurer David Gutierrez.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that Gutierrez had be scheduled to stand trial on Tuesday for charges of ethics violations stemming from allegations that he sexually harassed and solicited sex from a woman he worked with in 2014, but on Monday a judge ruled Gutierrez's alleged actions were not criminal.

Prosecutors say they will appeal the judge's decision.

A separate civil trial is set to move forward later this month in connection to the allegations. If he is found guilty in the civil case, Gutierrez would be immediately removed from office.

New Mexico To Issue Amber Alerts For Navajo NationThe Associated Press & The Gallup Independent

The state of New Mexico has volunteered to issue Amber Alerts for the Navajo Nation.

The Gallup Independent reports that under the proposed system, New Mexico would notify both Arizona and Utah if the tribe issues an Amber Alert. The New Mexico system would be in place while the Navajo Nation Alert System Task Force plans a 911 system for the tribe.

The task force was established in after residents raised concerns about the Amber Alert system after the May 2 disappearance of an 11-year-old girl and her 9-year-old brother. The girl was found dead the next day. The boy returned to his family.

Three-Way Race Plays Out In New Mexico Presidential ElectionAssociated Press

New Mexico voters are having their say in who should be the nation's next president and which major party will control the state Legislature.

Five electoral votes are at stake Tuesday in the nation's most Hispanic state, which heavily supported Barack Obama the last time around.

The entire state Legislature is up for election, with House Republicans defending a 37-33 majority and Senate Democrats clinging to a 24-18 advantage.

Donald Trump defiantly campaigned without the endorsement of GOP Gov. Susana Martinez, courting an electorate that twice backed Barack Obama.

Hillary Clinton sought to leverage heavy Democratic participation in early voting, without making a campaign visit to the state.

Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson still commands a popular following here from his two terms as governor.

Control Over New Mexico Statehouse At Stake On Election DayAssociated Press

Democrats are vying to regain control of New Mexico's Legislature after Republicans seized the House in 2014 for the first time in six decades.

The entire Legislature is up for re-election. Republicans hold a 37-33 advantage in the House, while Senate Democrats outnumber Republicans 24-18.

Fingerpointing over a lagging state economy and the nation's second-highest unemployment rate have dominated campaigning, along with concerns about violent crime after the killings of two police officers and the slaying of a 10-year-old Albuquerque girl this year.

The outcome of the election could shift the Legislature's approach to Republican-sponsored criminal justice initiatives, the state's relatively permissive regulations on gun sales and ownership, union-friendly labor laws, targeted business incentives and other efforts.

Panel Recommends Medical Marijuana To Fight Opioid AbuseSanta Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

An advisory panel is recommending to New Mexico health officials that medical marijuana be considered as a tool in the fight against opioid abuse.

Some health professionals tell the Santa Fe New Mexican that expanding the list of conditions that qualify under the state's medical marijuana program could transform New Mexico's landscape of addiction.

The recommendation will need the approval of Health Secretary Lynn Gallagher.

The Medical Advisory Board also voted Friday to recommend that Alzheimer's disease be added as a qualifying condition, and that the Health Department raise the cap on the number of plants a grower can produce to ensure an adequate supply is available for the increase in patients.

Officials say the program has grown over the past year to nearly 33,000 patients.

Voters To Decide If Dangerous Suspects Must Stay In JailAssociated Press

Voters will decide on a constitutional amendment that would allow judges to deny bail to defendants considered exceptionally dangerous.

The amendment also would grant pretrial release to those who aren't considered a threat but remain in jail because they can't afford bail.

The measure requires final approval from voters after lawmakers in February cleared the way for it to appear on the ballot.

Top leaders, including Gov. Susana Martinez and Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Daniels, have urged voters to support the amendment.

Legislative analysts have found that jailing significantly fewer non-dangerous defendants could save taxpayers $19 million per year, while detaining dangerous defendants for longer periods could cost about $967,000.

County Clerk, Lawmaker Vie To Become Top Elections OfficialAssociated Press

Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver and Republican state lawmaker Nora Espinoza are competing to become New Mexico's secretary of state.

Tuesday's winner will fill the last two years of Dianna Duran's term as top administrator overseeing elections and campaign finance disclosures. Duran resigned and was convicted on embezzlement and money laundering charges, acknowledging that she used campaign funds to fuel a gambling spree.

Espinoza has promised to concentrate on concerns about voter fraud by cleaning up registration rolls and backing proposals to require photo identification at the polls.

Toulouse Oliver, a Democrat who lost to Duran in 2014, has campaigned on her experience overseeing elections and voter rolls in the state's most populous county. She has emphasized the need to expand voter registration and participation using new technologies.

New Mexico Braces For Uncertain Political FutureAssociated Press

New Mexico voters are bracing for an uncertain political future amid last-minute overtures from presidential candidates and aggressive local campaigning to decide the balance of power in the state Legislature.

Monday provided an interlude between Election Day and several weeks of balloting at early voting centers and county clerk offices.

Donald Trump, running mate Mike Pence and Donald Trump Jr. have visited New Mexico in quick succession amid a spree of ad buys on local network television by the Republican ticket and Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Trump insists he is in close competition for the state's five electoral votes in a state that sided heavily with Barack Obama. Democrats hold the advantage in terms of voter registration, while Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson is undermining easy predictions in his home state.

New Mexico Couple Found Dead In An Apparent Murder-SuicideAssociated Press

Authorities say an elderly couple has been found shot to death inside their southern New Mexico home and it appears to be a murder-suicide.

Dona Ana County Sheriff's officials a relative went to the couple's home near Mesilla about 9 a.m. Monday and discovered the bodies.

They say the man and woman reportedly had lived together for about 30 years, but were never married.

Their names and ages weren't immediately released.

Sheriff's officials say the bodies are being sent to the University of New Mexico Office of the Medical Examiner for autopsies.

They say an initial investigation suggests the man shot the woman and then turned the gun on himself.

The couple's dog was also fatally shot.

Arizona Man Gets 10-Year Prison Term For Meth TraffickingAssociated Press

An Arizona man has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for methamphetamine trafficking in New Mexico.

Prosecutors say 47-year-old James Thomas Vance of Phoenix also was sentenced Monday to five years of supervised release after he completes his prison term.

Vance was arrested in September 2015 and charged by criminal complaint with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute.

Homeland Security Investigations agents say they discovered more than 969 grams of methamphetamine in Vance's vehicle during a traffic stop.

Vance was subsequently indicted in October 2015 and pleaded guilty five months ago.

He told authorities he was driving from Phoenix to New Mexico's Bernalillo County and planned to deliver the methamphetamine to other individuals.