SANTA FE – The state Supreme Court has been asked to order the Santa Fe mayor and City Council to implement ranked choice voting in March’s municipal elections — a change that was approved overwhelmingly at the ballot box nearly a decade ago.
In a petition to the high court filed Wednesday, the leader of FairVote New Mexico and three others say the conditions called for in a voter-approved 2008 city charter amendment have been met, with a company now offering suitable vote-counting software at the mandated “reasonable price.”
“We’ve been waiting for 10 years already almost, the time to implement RCV is here,” said Maria Perez of FairVote at a press conference outside City Hall Wednesday evening.
Perez said the council’s vote in July to not implement ranked choice voting until at least 2020 is an “insult to Santa Fe voters.”
Councilors who voted against using ranked choice next year said there wasn’t enough time to implement RCV and educate voters about the change. Contractor Dominion Inc., offering software for $39,000, still needs certification from the New Mexico Secretary of State. That office has said it should complete certification by late September.
“Although it’s arguable whether the prerequisites to give effect to the RCV Amendment were met in the past, they are in place now,” the Supreme Court petition states.
Ranked-choice voting, also called “instant runoff,” would be utilized when a race includes more than two candidates. Voters rank their choices among candidates by order of preference. If no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the first-ranked votes in an initial tabulation, the last-place candidate is dropped and the second choices of those who voted for the last-place candidate are counted as votes for the remaining candidates. That process continues until one of the contenders receives a majority.