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Mayoral race to be decided today

County clerk emphasizes importance of voting

People can vote for their favorite mayoral and City Council candidates as well as a variety of bond issues today at various polling locations in Albuquerque.

Bernalillo County Clerk Mary Herrera said about 265,000 people are registered to vote within the city limits but estimated that only 39 percent will head to the polls.

"I want to emphasize that it is our freedom and our right to vote," she said. "Especially with everything happening in the world."

Herrera said that every vote counts, citing mayoral candidate Martin Ch†vez's win in 1993.

"It was close," she said of the margin of victory. "It was 500-some votes."

Prior to 1997, candidates needed 40 percent of the vote in order to participate in the election, Herrera said.

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"Because of low turnouts, a candidate would never receive 40 percent," she said.

Usually, the two candidates with the highest percentages would be chosen to participate in a runoff election, Herrera said. Mayor Jim Baca, however, called the process unconstitutional and a court ruled in his favor in 1997, she said.

The County Clerk's Office is assisting the City Clerk's Office during the elections, she said.

"It's been busy," Herrera said. "People have been calling to find out where they should vote."

Herrera said the city has about 180 polling places and that locations change with every election. People can visit www.bernco.gov, click on "clerk" and go to "Where do I vote?" to find their polling locations, she said. They can also call the County Clerk's Office at 768-4085 or the City Clerk's Office at 768-3030.

Those who want to vote in this election must have registered to vote by 5 p.m. on Sept. 4.

Herrera said the best time to vote without having to wait in line is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

"The highest turnout is immediately in the morning," she said.

Polling locations are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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