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City of Albuquerque Initiative Petition Requirements Reform Charter Amendment

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A City of Albuquerque Initiative Petition Requirements Reform Charter Amendment ballot question may be on the election ballot in 2014 or 2015 for voters in the city of Albuquerque in Bernalillo County, New Mexico.

This measure is being proposed by City Councilors Ken Sanchez and Brad Winter partly in response to recent ballot initiatives that opponents claim were badly worded and provided nothing but a waste of time and money when put to the vote. The measure would make additional restrictions on the initiative petition process in the city and would likely require a greater number of signatures to qualify a measure for the ballot. Currently only 20 percent of the average turnout during the last four regular city elections or 20 percent of the turnout in the last election, whichever is greater, is required to put an initiative on the ballot. For 2013, this number amounted to only 12,091 signatures.

Support

The editorial board of the Albuquerque Journal provided an article calling for more strict initiative requirements and pointed to three elections for allegedly badly worded, vague or unenforceable measures in the last two years that cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars, the most recent of which was the Late Term Abortion Ban Initiative defeated by voters on November 19, 2013.[1]

The Albuquerque Journal editorial board cited the following three measures as examples of why more signatures should be required to qualify an initiative for the ballot.

This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.

Exhibit A: A proposal to increase the minimum wage to $8.50 an hour within the city limits was approved in the Nov. 6, 2012, general election. The wording was unclear as to whether employees would have to sue to get the higher wage or the city attorney would take action in cases of non-compliance, and it included annual automatic increases business groups are still trying to get revised.

Exhibit B: A proposal to require a runoff election between the top two candidates if none gets 50 percent was approved by a special March 11 ballot. The old requirement was 40 percent, a much more achievable majority in nonpartisan races that routinely draw more than two candidates.

Exhibit C: A proposal to ban abortions after 20 weeks was rejected on a special Nov. 19 ballot. In addition to confusing construction in which a vote “for” was in fact a vote against late-term abortions, there was ongoing debate on the constitutionality of the measure, with each side citing legal opinions.[1]

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