Final details regarding how ranked-choice voting will work in Santa Fe’s 2018 municipal election were hammered out late Wednesday, with the mayor and City Council adopting crucial definitions and what one councilor called the nation’s most “liberal” rules for handling improperly marked ballots. Only about a dozen jurisdictions in the country use RCV. The March 6 election in Santa Fe, in which voters will select a new mayor and four city councilors, will be the first RCV election in New Mexico. “I’m tired, but I feel really good about what we’ve done,” said City Councilor Joseph Maestas, whose name will be on the ballot as a candidate for mayor, near the end of a more than five-hour special meeting that followed a 90-minute study session on the same issue.
The council decision to adopt an ordinance establishing an RCV method for electing candidates was unanimous. The ordinance gives voters unlimited opportunities to correct ballots with errors recognized by election machine software. Maestas said that makes Santa Fe’s rules the most liberal – in terms of allowing voters to make corrections – in the country.
Because RCV will be used for the first time – provided the state Supreme Court doesn’t rule that RCV is unconstitutional, an issue that’s pending after the City Council voted earlier this month to challenge a lower court’s ruling – councilors said they wanted to give voters every opportunity to get their ballot right.