Much has been said, and sometimes misreported, about the role the Attorney General’s Office has played in Albuquerque’s election ballot question regarding the proposed Paseo del Norte/I25 interchange construction project.
First, let’s re-establish the facts. On August 16, 2012, the Office issued a legal Opinion that concluded the following: According to the New Mexico Election Code, a municipality can not propose a question on a the statewide election ballot. Included in that conclusion was the statement that, “Nevertheless, a municipality may submit a question to voters of the municipality on a municipal election held on the same day as a general election.”
Then on August 27, 2012, the AGO further advised the Secretary of State that the applicable state statute, while allowing a concurrent city-state election, also requires that: “...although a municipal election may be held concurrently with a general election, the two elections must remain separate and any incompatible provisions, such as voter identification must be independently dealt with...The municipality (City of Albuquerque) is responsible for determining that the concurrent election and any combined actions comply with the requirements of the ordinance or law that governs the municipality’s elections.”
Attorney General King says that it is important for the public to know we are not the kind of lawyers who just say "You can't do that" and leave it. We have been working cooperatively with the Secretary of State, County Clerk and City Clerk and their legal counsel to find the appropriate and defensible way to hold a concurrent election on this issue in November.
Now, here’s the misreporting from an Albuquerque TV station: “The attorney general now says a question to approve money for the Paseo del Norte-Interstate 25 interchange can appear on the November ballot as long as the city follows state election rules...At first the AG's office said the city issue wasn't allowed on a general election ballot, which is limited to county and state issues.” No...the AG has always advised (see above) that a concurrent election is allowed.
But on Wednesday Attorney General Gary King announced it would be OK to add the city question to the ballot as long as the Albuquerque City Council waives the voter ID requirement. No, the AG did not announce anything...the Secretary of State released an attorney-client memo...where we simply reiterated our earlier advice.
The August 16th Opinion and the August 27th memo are posted on the AGo website at: https://sites.google.com/a/nmag.gov/test-nmag/News-Releases.