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New Mexico Telegram » Albuquerque, Albuquerque Elections, Featured » ABQ runoff initiative passes, Democrats cheer

ABQ runoff initiative passes, Democrats cheer

An Albuquerque ballot initiative to raise the threshold needed to avoid a runoff in municipal elections from the current 40 percent to 50 percent has passed by a wide margin.

The unofficial results show that 32,055 voted for the initiative while 25,884 votes against. The thousands ballots that were uncounted would not have made a difference in deciding the election as some supporters had feared.

Democrats believe this will help them in this October’s municipal elections — primarily the mayoral election.

In 2009, when Richard Berry was elected with 44 percent of the vote. Berry defeated two Democrats in the non-partisan election — former mayor Martin Chavez and former State Senate President Pro Tem Richard Romero.

Many Democrats feel that if there were not two Democratic candidates, they would have defeated Berry.

Republicans have argued that it would add unnecessary expense and would result in more lower-turnout elections deciding elections. Runoff elections have much lower turnout that general elections.

“Up against Mayor RJ Berry and his opposition to this 50% measure and his City Clerk appointee who attempted to rig this election at the last minute, voters sent a strong message to the Mayor and his allies – it is time for a change,” Democratic Party of New Mexico chairman Javier Gonzales said in a statement. “This changes the way elections will happen in Albuquerque, Mayor RJ Berry will now have to convince 50% + 1 of Albuquerqueans why his failed economic policies deserve another chance.”

Mayoral candidate Pete Dinelli lauded the passage as well.

“I am very pleased with the likely passage of an amendment to Albuquerque’s City Charter that will provide for fair elections in Albuquerque decided by a majority of voters,” Dinelli said in a statement on Facebook. “I am also proud to have been an early supporter of this change and to have helped collect petitions to place this question on the ballot.”

The election was a mail-in election — the first in 14 years in the city of Albuquerque. The uncounted ballots were not valid because the outside of the envelopes was not signed. The city clerk initially allowed those who did not sign the outer envelope to sign them at the clerk’s office.

When the clerk, Amy Bailey, stopped letting voters go to the clerk’s office and add the signatures, supporters said she was trying to suppress the vote.

Written by

Matthew Reichbach has blogged about New Mexico politics since 2006. Matthew was a co-founder of New Mexico FBIHOP with his brother and part of the original hirings at the groundbreaking website the New Mexico Independent. Matthew has covered events such as the Democratic National Convention and Netroots Nation. In addition to politics, Matthew is an avid sports fan, especially of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and TV fan.

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