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Space crunch hits Bernalillo County ballots

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Bernalillo County election workers are testing hundreds of different ballot combinations as they try to determine how many city questions they can squeeze before voters this fall.

The city of Albuquerque has its own municipal elections in odd-numbered years, but the City Council wants to add five items to this year’s Nov. 4 general-election ballot, which includes state and county races.

County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver said Friday that she expects to be able to accommodate at least one city question, not all five.

Whether more than one can be added should be more clear this week, she said, once workers finish testing the space limits on each of the 700 ballot combinations for the fall election. The ballot each voter gets varies, depending on where they live.

“We have to mock every single one of these up to know if we have space,” Toulouse Oliver said. “That’s why this is such a long and arduous process.”

The city questions themselves are up in the air, too. The City Council narrowly approved an election resolution with five questions, ranging from whether to reduce marijuana penalties to a proposed tax increase for social-service programs.

But the legislation is now heading to Mayor Richard Berry, who’s seriously considering a veto. He is opposed to the marijuana and tax proposals.

Berry must either approve or reject the whole resolution, making it difficult, perhaps impossible, for him to block some questions and approve others.

If he vetoes the election resolution, the council could try drafting a new one, but time is running out. The county clerk must send the ballot to state election officials Sept. 9.

It would take six votes to override a veto. The original election resolution won approval on a 5-4 vote.

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