ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – At Monday night’s Albuquerque City Council meeting, more than a dozen residents addressed councilors with concerns about the font size on the upcoming ballot for the October election.
This election, voters will elect a new mayor, five city councilors, vote on a handful of a bond question and the proposed sick leave ordinance.
If passed by voters, the ordinance would require Albuquerque employers to provide paid sick time off to full and part-time employees.
Last September, State District Judge Alan Malott ruled the entire seven-page ordinance, not a summary, must appear on the ballot. There’s just one problem: the ballot is one page, front-and-back. That means the city clerk would have to re-construct the ballot, and decrease the font size.
It’s an option many spoke out against at Monday night’s city council meeting.
“Please stand up for fair elections. The visually impaired community and citizens with less than perfect eyesight,” one resident said.
“In the best of circumstances, with great lighting, I find it difficult to read something in that small of font.” Therese Sanders said. “I’m concerned that people who will find this difficult to read, will not read it, will ignore it, or just plain not vote on it.”
Councilors said the first few drafts of the ballot came out in a six-point font.
Councilor Pat Davis admits some of the early samples were difficult to read but said the council never intended to keep it that way.
“It’s like the small print on the bottom of a contract, nobody reads it and we certainly don’t want to pass laws that way,” Davis said. “We’re going to get a new mayor, we have city council candidates in five districts that are going to be up this year, and then we have a long list of projects that people want to vote on, so we cannot afford to take those off the ballot.”
Instead, Monday night, the council passed an amendment to help solve the issues with the ballot.
“We’ve asked the city clerk to come up with a compromise ballot that puts all of the questions in the same font on one page so everyone can vote on them and see what else we can do, like a voter guide, that lets voters read deeper into all the other things,” Davis said.
The plan is to hand out the voter guides, or have them available, for each person who walks into a ballot box.
“It’s going to take some time but we’ll get it right,” Davis said.
The city would also have to budget appropriately in order to purchase those separate voter guides to hand out at the polls.
The city clerk has until August to come up with a final ballot sample to present to city council.