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No tacos for voters, Pre-K group decides

SANTA FE – There will be no free tacos for casting a ballot today, as early voting begins in a special election on whether Santa Fe should impose a 2-cents-per-ounce tax on the distributors of sugar sweetened beverages.

Pre-K for Santa Fe, a political committee supporting the tax estimated to generate more than $7 million for early childhood education programs, had been promoting on its Facebook page “Free Tacos for First 100 ‘I voted’ Stickers.”

Ballot workers often offer “I Voted,” or “I Voted Early” stickers to people who show up and cast ballots.tacos2

The free-tacos event was to take place between 3 and 6 p.m. today at the Genoveva Chavez Community Center, one of the voting sites for the May 2 special election.

But the free food was  cancelled Tuesday after Pre-K for Santa Fe got calls from reporters about the propriety of offering incentives to voters.

A spokeswoman for group noted that the free tacos were being offered anyone who voted, not just those who said they voted for the tax. “This is a special election so we really want to encourage people to go out and vote and make your voice heard. It’s not about how a person votes, just that people vote,” Pre-K for Santa Fe’s Sandra Wechsler said in a statement. “Providing food is standard at events like this. However, out of an abundance of caution, we are canceling the food truck we had scheduled to be there. Instead families will be invited to come early to vote with the Mayor.”

Mayor Javier Gonzales, who is leading the pro-tax effort, will vote today at 4 p.m. at the community center, she said.

A spokesman for a political committee opposing the tax, Better Way for Santa Fe and Pre-K, which receives almost all of its funding from the American Beverage Association, said he didn’t think offering an incentive to vote would make any difference. “We don’t think people will go for a massive new tax on hundreds of beverages that they’ll pay for the rest of their lives in return for a free taco,” David Huynh said in a phone interview. Huynh said his group had no plans to offer free sodas to early voters.

Early voting continues through April 28. Voting at the Genoveva Chavez center, 3221 Rodeo Rd., runs 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, except on Good Friday, April 14, when voting stops at noon, and on Friday, April 28, when it stops  5 p.m.

Early voting also takes place at the City Clerk’s office in City Hall, 200 Lincoln Ave.,  8 a.m.- 5 p.m. Monday through Friday through April 28.