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Metro Beat: Abortion issue draws early voters, campaign cash

Albuquerque’s mayoral election turned out to be a landslide that drew few voters to the polls.

This month’s abortion election is something else altogether.

Participation in early voting so far is about twice as heavy as it was at this point in the mayoral race. It seems clear the abortion ordinance has triggered intense feelings on both sides.

“This election is incomparable to anything we’ve ever seen in the city early voting-wise,” City Clerk Amy Bailey said Monday.

About 25,000 people had cast ballots at early-voting sites through Monday afternoon. The total early-vote total from last month’s city election was 26,208.

At this point in last month’s election, only 13,498 people had voted early.

Voters in City Council District 7, which covers the neighborhoods stretching from Lomas and Carlisle to Montgomery and Eubank, will also decide a runoff election between Republican Janice Arnold-Jones and Democrat Diane Gibson.

Voting tips

Early voting is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 12 sites through this Friday. Election Day itself is Tuesday.

Bailey has plenty of advice to make the experience smoother for everyone.

  • First, decide beforehand how you intend to vote. The entire ordinance is printed on the ballot, and some of its language has confused voters.

A vote “for” the ballot measure is a vote in support of an ordinance that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, with narrow exceptions for when the pregnant woman’s life is in danger. A vote “against,” of course, is to reject the proposal.

  • Election staffers cannot give you advice on how to vote.

“People are still confused and wanting to talk about it with poll workers, which they cannot do,” Bailey said.

  • Also, when you’ve been issued a ballot, you can’t change your mind and decide to vote later or take it home. So be prepared before you show up.
  • One more thing: A photo ID is required to vote in city elections.

Campaign money

Money is pouring into the campaign on both sides.

Supporters of the proposal have raised about $90,000 in cash contributions. About half – $45,500 – comes from one person: Albert Brown, a technologist who works for Sandia National Laboratories.

Of Brown’s $45,500 donation, $25,000 is a loan.

Nonetheless, opponents of the ordinance have far more money.

They’ve raised $585,000 in cash donations.

A variety of Planned Parenthood groups have given more than $300,000.

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico and its foundation have contributed $200,000.

Journal staff writer Dan McKay covers city and county governments. Contact him at