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Abortion initiative won’t make October city ballot

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — City Clerk Amy Bailey is close to verifying that supporters of an abortion initiative have submitted enough signatures to trigger an election on the issue.

But it’ll be too late to make the Oct. 8 ballot, when voters will head to the polls to pick a mayor and six city councilors.

That’s because a key deadline to publish election notices passed on Monday, meaning it’s too late to add the abortion measure to the regular ballot, city officials said. State law requires an election resolution at least 50 days before an election, according to City Council staffers.

But the clerk’s office isn’t yet finished verifying whether supporters of the proposal submitted enough signatures to move the initiative forward.

Bailey said Monday that her staff has verified about 9,800 signatures so far as having come from valid city voters. To trigger an election, supporters need 12,091.

Bailey said she wasn’t sure when the verification will be finished.

“It is a slow process,” she said. “We are doing everything we can to get the signature checks.”

The proposed ordinance would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, with narrow exceptions for cases in which the woman’s life is in danger. Supporters say they submitted about 27,000 signatures in favor of the proposal.

Under the City Charter, if the clerk certifies supporters have met the signature requirement, the ordinance must be proposed to the City Council. If the council rejects the ordinance, amends it or fails to act within a certain period of time, the proposal must be scheduled for an election within 90 days, according to the charter.

That time frame would allow the abortion ordinance to be proposed to voters Nov. 19, the tentative date for a city runoff election.

A runoff election is certainly possible this year. Under city rules, if no candidate in a particular race gets at least 50 percent of the vote, then the top two candidates participate in a runoff election the following month.

There are three candidates in the mayoral race and in two City Council districts.

It costs the city about $600,000 to run an election.

Both anti-abortion and abortion-rights activists turned out to testify on the abortion ordinance at Monday’s City Council meeting, although their arguments generally centered on the merits of the proposal, not the timing of an election.

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