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Wednesday, March 5, 2003

Bid for Second Vote Tabled

By Kate Nash
Journal Capitol Bureau
    SANTA FE Members of the House Voters and Elections Committee on Tuesday tabled a measure that would allow two public votes instead of one in the upcoming Albuquerque-Bernalillo County unification effort.
    The measure (HJR 21), sponsored by House Majority Whip James Taylor, would amend the state constitution to allow residents in the unincorporated areas of the county to vote in a separate election from city residents.
    Under the current process for combining the city and county governments, only one vote by all Bernalillo County residents is scheduled for this fall.
    Taylor, a South Valley Democrat, said the one-vote process gives less weight to the votes of rural residents.
    "These citizens were bamboozled by the Legislature," which previously approved a proposed constitutional amendment to allow voters to decide on one vote instead of two, Taylor said. Voters in 2000 approved the one-vote process.
    "This is designed to allow the county residents to have an equal say," he said of his two-vote proposal.
    Opponents say Taylor's measure would overrule the voters who already have opted for one vote.
    "This (committee action) allows the process to continue," said David Campbell, of the pro-unification group Citizens for ABC Government.
    Taylor said he planned to try and remove the bill from the committee's table.
    "I'm not giving up on this," he said.