Abortion ban ballot seen as confusing

Posted at: 10/31/2013 6:09 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

It’s long, it’s verbose, it’s confusing – and those are just some of the nicer things people are saying about the ballot in Albuquerque’s special abortion rights election. Some call it the worst ballot in the history of the city’s elections.

“In my 70 years I have never seen such a convoluted presentation on a ballot – ever!” That’s what Lou Salm said this morning after voting at one of the city’s twelve early vote sites. “This is terrible I think. It’s totally confusing.  Frankly, I think it’s confusing for both sides.”

That’s exactly what we found when we talked to voters at the early vote sites Wednesday and Thursday. Some voters told us they left without voting, after destroying their ballots in frustration.

A quick glance at a sample ballot tells the story: there are 12 subparagraphs in section 2 alone, and section 3 has 27 subparagraphs and sub-sub paragraphs. All in all it’s about 1,500 words – a proposition to outlaw late-term abortions, anything after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

City leaders say they had no choice but to print the ballot question just exactly as it appeared on the petitions signed by thousands of voters demanding the election.

City Clerk Amy Bailey says election workers can’t help much – it’s up to the voters to help themselves.

“We have sample ballots,” Bailey said. “We’re having posters done of the language on the ballot. But in order to make sure that everybody understands the question and understands what they’re voting for – do your homework!

Here’s a little help with that homework. This is not a “yes” or “no” question. It’s “for” or “against”. If you’re in favor of outlawing late-term abortions, you vote “for” the proposal. If you’re opposed to that, you vote “against” it. Good luck!