Anyone who thinks city elections don't matter, or that they pale in comparison to national politics, hasn't been paying attention. Truth is, they're probably even more important than the glorified, glossy presidential elections that harangue us every four years, replete with spin-doctors, million-dollar TV ads and men behind the proverbial curtain. They also allow you to exert much more influence as a voter.
While national elections are significant, our daily lives are more directly affected by those who run our cities, not our country. Who's taking care of the issues that Albuquerque cares about? Crime? Education? Water? Growth? You can't count on Mr. Bush to make sure the Westside is developed with patience and wisdom, and you definitely can't call on him when you're upset about the speed humps recently installed in your neighborhood. Who can you call on? Your local elected officials: Your city councilor, your mayor.
It's a sad reality that only one-third of Albuquerqueans that vote in national elections vote in local elections. That means we've got a long a long way to go to fulfill our civic duty as a community.
So help us help you. Here, you should find all you need to know to participate in your democratic right. This Tuesday, Oct. 4, voting will occur from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at poll locations throughout the city. To find out where to vote, how early voting works, when and where the last mayoral forums will be held, and much, much more, refer to the boxes on this page. If you still have any nagging questions, check out the City Clerk's website at cabq.gov/clerk or call her office at 768-3030.
Remember that a candidate needs at least 40 percent of the vote to win and avoid a runoff. If none of the candidates in a race receive that, the two with the highest number of votes will go head-to-head at the polls again on Nov. 15. (For details, consult the frequently asked questions section below.)
To further aid you faithful citizens, the City Council recently passed legislation, sponsored by City Councilor Miguel Gómez, that mandates free rides for anyone who boards public transportation on Oct. 4. And don't forget that it's state law for all employers to give employees two hours off on Election Day to vote.
So stop pretending your vote doesn't count, uncap those pens—or pencils, or styluses, as the case may be—and come out this Tuesday, Oct. 4, to exercise your duty as a proud, patriotic, red-blooded citizen of these United States.
The Early Bird Special
For those of you who are invested in your civic duty but can't fathom the thought of waiting in line on Election Day—or if you'll simply be out of town or unable to get to the polls on Oct. 4—here are some instructions on how you can still satisfy your thirst for democracy, while avoiding those lengthy lines.
1) If you hurry, you can still get an absentee ballot from the City Clerk. To get one, call the City Clerk's office at 768-3030 to request an application for the ballot; they'll mail it to you, and you have to either mail it back to them or drop it off at their office at One Civic Plaza NW, 11th Floor, Room 11110. Make sure you have your application at the City Clerk's office by Sept. 30, because that's the last day they can send out absentee ballots. Once you have your ballot, get it back to the same place by 7 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, Oct. 4. Make haste!
2) For early voting, you can stop by the City Clerk's office (address above) or the City of Albuquerque Record Center (604 Menaul NW, 243-0781) Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., up through Friday, Sept. 30. The Record Center is also open on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Some Answers to Our Most Frequently Asked Voting Questions
If I'm registered to vote in national elections, am I automatically registered to vote in local elections?
Yes, as long as the address you used to register for the national election was within city limits. However, if you haven't voted within two general election cycles, the County Clerk automatically purges you from the system and you must reregister.
How do I find out if, and where, I'm registered?
Call the County Clerk at 768-4085 to find out if you're registered and what address you're registered at.
If I'm not already registered, how do I register?
Unfortunately, the cutoff to register to vote in this election was Sept. 6. (Start paying attention, you derelicts.) Fortunately, if there is a runoff election, you'll get another chance. Registration reopens on Oct. 10 and closes on Oct. 18, which gives you a little more than a week to get your act together.
How can I find out what district I'm registered in? And which poll location should I go to?
If you know the address you're registered at, visit cabq.gov/clerk/20051004/pollinglocations.html for a nifty locator map to find out what district you're in and where to go to vote.
Can I vote anywhere, or only at polls listed within my registered district?
Sorry, you have to vote at polls listed for your district. But don't worry, there are plenty of them.
Do I need to bring a photo ID?
No, although that very issue is on this year's ballot—check out our Election Guide at alibi.com for more details.
If there's a runoff election, when will it be held, where should I go and can I vote early?
If there's a runoff, it will be held Nov. 15. Relevant poll locations should overall remain the same, but you should still check the website listed above to verify. You can participate in early voting from Oct. 19 through Nov. 11, with the same process described in “The Early Bird Special” at left.
For further quandaries, visit cabq.gov/clerk.
Duking It Out
If you still haven't managed to see all the mayoral candidates in action, here's your chance. Three more forums will take place between now and Election Day. So get off your couch-swaddled butt and go to one, or at the very least turn on your TV.
Thursday, Sept. 29: NAACP Mayoral Forum
UNM Continuing Education Building (1634 University NE)
6-8 p.m., open to the public
Topics to be discussed include efficiencies in city government, education/student dropout rates, economic empowerment of all citizens, after-school programs and equal treatment under the criminal justice system.
Friday, Sept. 30: “In Focus,” Special Election Show
KNME (Channel 5)
Kate Nelson leads one-on-one discussions with each mayoral candidate. The show will be re-aired on Sunday, Oct. 2, from 6:30-7 a.m.
Sunday, Oct. 2: Mayoral Forum
KRQE (Channel 13)
Dick Knipfing from KRQE and Kate Nelson from the Albuquerque Tribune will lead, with questions coming from local reporters, as well as station viewers and Tribune readers.
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