May 27 First News: New Mexico Voter Registration Up Among Independents (Listen)

May 27, 2014

Voter registration has increased nearly 7 percent since New Mexico's last primary election, but a growing share of the electorate can't cast ballots in primary contests. Independents — those unaffiliated with a political party — are the fastest-growing part of the electorate.  According to the secretary of state's office, nearly one-point-three million are registered to vote — an increase of six-point-six percent since the 2012 primary election. There are nearly 997-thousand Democratic and Republican voters, an increase of four-percent. Only Democrats and Republicans can vote in their primary contests. There was a 16 percent increase in independent and minor party voters. They account for 22 percent of registered voters, up from 20 percent in 2012. About 47 percent of voters are registered Democrats, and 31 percent are Republican.

The federal Bureau of Land Management is developing a 20 year plan for land use – a plan that includes fracking and drilling activity– across Northwest New Mexico and the Four Corners region. And that has some New Mexico environmentalists alarmed. They’re concerned about the potential for fracking for oil and gas on land close to Chaco Culture National Historical Park. Sanders Moore, state director of Environment New Mexico says the BLM is taking public comments on the plan through tomorrow, May 28th. *****052714-Moore-1 :17***** Moore says Environment New Mexico is particularly concerned about fracking activity and its increased potential for earthquakes.

A new report says teens giving birth are likely costing New Mexico more than 100 million dollars a year. According to the New Mexican, state health officials cited the study last week, saying the bottom line is that taxpayers spent 103-million dollars  in 2010 as a result of teen pregnancies. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, which conducted the study, says the state spent two-and-a-half billion overall between 1991 and 2010.

The study attributes the spending to subsidized health care and growing participation in public benefits programs. However, the report also says the birth rate for girls between ages 15 and 17 has dropped 43 percent since 2000.  As of 2012, New Mexico had the second-highest teen birth rate nationwide.

A new Albuquerque Journal poll shows Attorney General Gary King with a slight edge among Democrats running for governor. The newspaper reports more than a quarter of Democratic voters are still undecided as the primary election looms less than two weeks away, making the nomination a possibility for all five candidates. The poll found King has a 6-point lead, or 22 percent of the votes. However, former government administrator Lawrence Rael and businessman Alan Webber are not far behind with 16 percent each. Research & Polling conducted the poll through a statewide telephone survey earlier this month of 631 registered Democrats who said they'll likely vote next. The winner will face Gov. Susanna Martinez, who has no opponent in the GOP primary.

Santa Fe Weather: Mostly sunny today with the high near 80. Tonight: Partly cloudy with a low around 50. Tomorrow: Partly sunny with the high 83 and a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Currently, it’s ____.