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Comments on the ballot issues

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The rhetoric regarding the Charter ballot questions on initiative, referendum and recall is making the changes sound positively draconian!
Let’s look at what the most widely challenged changes actually do.
For Initiatives
1) No change in the percentage of voters needed (so not noted in the ballot question) but a change in the basis for the number of signatures required for initiatives from 15% of voters in the last general election to 15% of the number of voters in the arithmetic mean of the past two general elections. (Election Resolution 12-09, p. 4, New Section 700.2)  For example:
• 15 percent of the 8,846 voters in 2010 = 1,327 (mid-term)•
• 15 percent of the 11,118 voters in 2008 = 1,668 (presidential)
• 15 percent of the mean of 9,982 voters  = 1,497
So if the last general election is a typical presidential election you are better off with the Charter change!
Santa Fe requires 33.3 percent of the voters in the last mayoral election (actual numbers not available at press time).  Albuquerque requires 20 percent of the average of the last four municipal elections.
2) Change in the time for collecting signatures, from 180 days - half a year - to 90 days - three months.  Half a year is a long time to wait, both for those who want the change being proposed and for those who are trying to make plans to move forward.
Three Initiative petitions have actually been carried to full certification of adequate number of voters between 2001 and 2012: Ellen Walton, 2009, Capital Project vote and Petitions and Ballot measures vote; and Richard Hannemann, 2010, to put the Municipal Building back to original specs.  Ellen’s two were sent to the Charter Review Committee (CRC) instead of a citizen vote.  Richard’s was killed by the District Court as including administrative items not subject to public vote.  
So a 90-day signature period would have brought these measures to conclusion much more quickly.  Santa Fe allows 90 days, Albuquerque 60 days.
For Referenda
1) Changes in the basis and the number of signatures required from 10 percent of the number voters in the last general election to 15% of the number of voters in the arithmetic mean of the past two general elections.  For example:
• 10 percent of the 8,846 voters in 2010 = 885 (mid-term)
• 10 percent of the 11,118 voters in 2008 = 1,112 (presidential)
• 15 percent of the mean of 9,982 voters  = 1,497
This is now the same as required for Initiatives.
Again Santa Fe requires 33.3 percent of the number of voters in the last mayoral election; Albuquerque 20 percent of average number of voters in the last four municipal elections.
2) Time allowed for gathering referendum signatures remains at 60 days.  Santa Se allows 90 days, Albuquerque 35 days.
For Recall
Recall rules are made consistent with the New Mexico Constitution.  The main change from the current Charter is the requirement that recall be for a stated reason, specifically for malfeasance or misfeasance in office or a violation of the elected official’s oath of office.
 The current Charter allows recall for no reason!
I think these changes provide a reasonable balance between representative government and direct democracy. Are they really so draconian?
Please vote “FOR.”
Fran Berting is a Los Alamos County Councilor.