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News and notes from City Hall, Bernalillo County and local politics

Breaking: ABQ clerk says ballots signed after the fact can’t be counted

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City Clerk Amy Bailey says she won’t be able to count municipal ballots signed after the fact.

About 4,300 people have returned ballots to the clerk’s office without signing the oath on the envelope. Initially, Bailey encouraged people to come in and sign the ballots if they forgot or refused to do so before mailing them.

But a review of city ordinances shows that won’t be possible, she said. Voters must have signed the ballot envelope before returning or mailing it to the clerk.

I spoke to the clerk this afternoon and will have a full report in tomorrow’s paper on how many ballots are involved.

Here’s her full statement:

City Clerk Reminds Voters to Sign Special Election Ballots

Ballots NOT signed prior to mailing to City Clerk WILL NOT be Counted.

ALBUQUERQUE— The Office of the City Clerk took the initiative to again remind voters to sign their ballots for the upcoming March 11, 2013 Special Election before returning them to the City Clerk. The Clerk’s Office has been contacted by numerous voters who realized they had not signed their ballots, and have requested the opportunity to sign the ballot. The Clerk’s Office endeavored to accommodate the voters who submitted the defective ballots.

 

Yesterday, however, the Clerk’s Office stopped allowing voters to come in to attest and sign after it was discovered that the City’s absentee voting ordinance does not permit voters to sign ballots after they return an unsigned ballot to the City.

 

“I sincerely apologize to the public for the incorrect information provided to voters by my office. I also apologize for any inconvenience caused by our attempt to help those voters who did not execute the oath on their ballot to cast an effective vote,” said Amy B. Bailey. “The absentee voting and mail ballot procedures outlined by state and local election law remains in place. Unfortunately, the law does not allow unsigned ballots to be corrected or to be counted. Consequently, to comply with the ordinance, I can no longer allow the completion of any unsigned ballot after it has been returned to my office,” added Bailey.

 

The ballots that were signed after their return to the Clerk’s Office will be confidentially sequestered by the absentee precinct board when it convenes. Those ballots, along with the other unsigned ballots returned to the City cannot be counted under the ordinance and will be treated by the absentee precinct board under the provisions for unsigned ballots as provided by state law.

 

A citizens’ group circulated petitions in the fall of 2012 proposing an amendment to the City Charter. The citizens’ group was successful in collecting signatures and the City Charter requires an election be held within 90 days from the final date the petitions were provided to the City Clerk. In this instance, the City is required to hold a special election on or before March 11, 2013. The Special Election is a mail ballot election. This means there are no polling places on Election Day, no Early Voting locations and no need to request an absentee ballot. For more information see http://www.cabq.gov/clerk/elections/2013-special-municipal-election.

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