If Edgewood’s town council fails to meet a court-ordered July 5 deadline to pass an election resolution determining how voting in the November election will be conducted, that election will still go ahead as planned, said the Santa Fe County Clerk Katharine Clark.
According to Clark, if that deadline is missed, the Secretary of State’s office would still issue ballots for the election, which will include five commissioners and a municipal judge.
If no decision on a voting method is agreed upon and submitted to the Secretary of State, voting in that election would then default to at-large, said Clark. That means that voters would be able to cast votes for any candidates, regardless of where the voter lives.
Town clerk Juan Torres said in an email to The Independent, “I cannot speak for what will happen with at large vs. districted voting,” adding that the Attorney General, Secretary of State or County Clerk would make a determination “on how the vote will take place” if the governing body doesn’t act on it.
If the town council decides that voting would be districted, then voters within a district would only vote on candidates within that district. Historically, Edgewood’s voting for mayor and councilors has been at large.
“The council did the most important thing already,” Clark said, and that was to agree upon and adopt a districting plan.
Clark will have until July 13 to “work out the positions to be filled” in that election with the Secretary of State, she said, and the SOS will have until Aug. 4 to issue the election proclamation.
What is yet to be determined, said Clark, is if the resolution passed by the town and submitted to her office and the Secretary of State “counts as notification,” and what the resolution “is actually saying.”
“[Since] the Secretary of State is actually triggering the election,” said Clark, it’s ultimately up to that office to make any final determinations regarding the special election in November if the Edgewood Town Council misses its opportunity.
Clark said that on June 11 her office received a copy of the election resolution passed in November 2020 which formalized that Edgewood would adopt a commissioner-manager form of government. The Secretary of State’s office was copied in on that correspondence.
If that resolution contained preferences for voting style, it would have been submitted well in advance of the July 5 deadline for consideration by the Secretary of State. However, the very thing not included in that submitted resolution was how the town would like to conduct that voting, be it at-large or districted, according to Clark.
Generally, once a council informs the Secretary of State of the town’s voting preferences, that office issues an election proclamation and parameters are then set, she said.
But with Edgewood’s council evenly divided on whether to press on and make a determination, or wait for additional information from the Attorney General’s office, no decision on voting style has been made.
Mayor Pro Tem John Abrams has been vocal about wanting more information from the AG’s office in advance of a decision by the council. When The Independent reached out to the AG’s office inquiring about the consequences of not meeting that deadline, the following response was received from Matt Baca of the Attorney General’s office: “The consequences of failing to comply with the Court’s order would be better addressed directly by the [Edgewood town] Council or its attorneys. Here is the AG’s comment on the Matter: Our office, the Secretary of State, and the courts have all given sufficient guidance to the Town council to take the next steps in carrying out the will of the voters; and I am highly concerned that they have not appointed a fifth voting member in order to take necessary governing steps to do so.”
In March, Abrams brought forward three names for consideration by the town council, which could not agree on any, deadlocking on all three votes.
Abrams did not respond to requests for comment for this story.