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No ranked-choice voting in SF March elections

SANTA FE, N.M. — The ranked-choice voting system that Santa Fe voters approved six years ago won’t be used in the city’s municipal elections in March.

Ranked-choice voting is a way of electing a winner from a field of candidates when no one captures a majority of the votes.

Under the system, voters rank the candidates in order of preference. If no candidate has a majority of the first-choice votes, the candidate with the fewest number of votes is eliminated. His or her votes are redistributed, based on each voter’s second choice. The process is repeated until one candidate has a majority.

City Clerk Yolanda Vigil told The Santa Fe New Mexican that the ranked-choice system won’t be used because there aren’t voting machines with software available to conduct such an election.

Although the state Elections Bureau is reviewing proposals for updated voting machines, it’s unlikely there will be new machines anytime soon. The Voting System Certification Committee is scheduled to meet Monday to consider three applications for new voting machines, none of which have software available for ranked-choice voting.

Mayor David Coss said he isn’t in a hurry to implement the system and believes those who voted for the concept did so without understanding what it meant.

Coss, whose second term as mayor expires with the election and who is not seeking a third term, said he’s planning to ignore the issue “for at least seven months.”

Rick Lass, a Green Party activist, noted that 65 percent of the 2008 voters favored establishing the ranked-choice system and said he was surprised by Coss’ comments.

Lass has been trying for years to get the city to adopt preferential voting and said it could be especially important in the upcoming election, in which a half-dozen people say they are running for mayor. One candidate could win with a plurality of votes.

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