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 V.17 No.44 | October 30 - November 5, 2008 
Alibi’s Online Election Guide

Feature

Constitutional Amendments

These are statewide and appear on every ballot

Constitutional Amendment One—Yes

What It Says: In districts with more than 200,000 people, there would be nine school board members instead of the seven there are now. Also, in such high-population districts, elections would be held via mail-in ballot. (The only district in the state with more than 200,000 residents is Albuquerque Public Schools.)

What We Think: We're neutral about increasing the size of the school board. More brains could mean smarter decisions, but it could also breed more bureaucracy. School board elections see terrible turnout, and conducting them through the mail might help mitigate that problem. The Alibi endorses this amendment, though it's unfortunate these two separate issues got rolled into one measure. What if a voter hates the idea of a bigger board but supports mail-in ballots, or vice versa?

Constitutional Amendment Two—No

What It Says: This measure would allow county officers to get raises in the middle of their terms. County commissioners would be allowed to increase their own salaries.

What We Think: When you decide to go through the trouble of running for office, you know how much money you're going to make in that position and should take it or leave it. Further, most counties are struggling financially. Now is not the time to talk about salary increases. What's going to stop commissioners from quietly giving themselves raises on a whim? It's not an agency that's extensively monitored by the media. Finally, in a state riddled with cronyism, allowing political officials to spend money on other political officials is probably not the wisest move.

Constitutional Amendment Three—Yes

What It Says: The way it works now is cabinet secretaries are confirmed by the state Senate, but once they've got their jobs, only the governor can fire them. This amendment would require cabinet secretaries to undergo a reconfirmation by the state Senate at the beginning of each term of the governor.

What We Think: Though some have argued that reconfirmation would be a waste of time, we say that any opportunity to give power back to constituents—even vicariously—is a good one. Allowing these positions to be scrutinized by legislative representatives every four years means they will be more accountable to the public that elects those legislators.

Constitutional Amendment Four—Yes

What It Says: This amendment would allow school board elections to be held at the same time as other nonpartisan elections.

What We Think: As things stand, the state's constitution prevents school board elections from being held at the same time as other elections. The rule was established in the early 1900s, when female voters were only allowed to cast ballots in school elections. As we mentioned before, very few people vote in school elections. Passing this amendment could mean more involvement from voters. It would also lower the cost of the elections for school boards.

Constitutional Amendment Five—No

What It Says: The final amendment on your ballot would allow the governor to appoint a new lieutenant governor if the position was suddenly vacant in the middle of a term.

What We Think: Though there's no procedure on the books for how such a situation should be handled, we don't like the idea of voters' authority being bypassed. Also, though some say the lieutenant governor job is largely "ceremonial," that person acts as governor when the governor is out of the state. The position is too important to leave the decision to one person.

 
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