ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - A proposed late-term abortion ban will likely go before Albuquerque voters before the end of the year.
But don't look for it during city elections in October.
City clerk Amy Bailey's office is still verifying there are enough valid petition signatures for a citywide vote. To get it on the October ballot, Bailey needed to approve a little more than 12,000 signatures by Monday.
Right now, her office has verified just shy of 10,000.
"The group will be entitled to an election," Bailey said. "[The law] just doesn't specify which election."
That means a special election might be necessary, something that would cost city taxpayers about $600,000.
"I'm not ready to spend that kind of money," said City Council member Rey Garduno. "I don't think the citizens of this city are ready to spend that kind of money."
Garduno is frustrated with Bailey's office.
"All I can say is I wish we'd finished by now and that falls, of course, on the city clerk," Garduno said.
Bailey was appointed to the post by Mayor R.J. Berry and some critics have speculated her office dragged its feet to keep the issue off the October ballot.
"There's been some perception that we are delaying the process, but really [my staff is] working so hard," Bailey said. "I don't believe they could've moved any faster."
Bailey says the petition was submitted at a particularly tricky time because her office also has its regular duties preparing for the October election. She says she'd like to see some changes to the city's petition process, but didn't specify what kind of changes.
The city clerk's office has until early September to verify the rest of the signatures. Once she does, the City Council has two weeks to either approve the abortion proposal or reject it and send it to voters.
An election would need to be held by December. There's a possibility the abortion proposal could piggyback on a citywide runoff election scheduled for mid-November if a runoff in the mayor's race is necessary. That would keep the city from having to fork out the money needed to pay for a special election.
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