Efforts to implement ranked choice voting in time for the 2018 municipal election in Santa Fe were renewed Friday when an emergency petition was filed in state District Court. Last week, the state Supreme Court rejected a similar petition. Since that decision, however, the software needed to implement the ranked choice voting method has been certified. “On September 27, 2017, New Mexico’s Voting System Certification Committee unanimously recommended it for certification, and as mandated by the State’s election code for voting systems, it has now been certified and will be used throughout the State in the upcoming 2018 elections,” according to the petition filed by Maria Perez of FairVote New Mexico — a nonpartisan group that advocates for electoral reforms at the local, state, and national level — and others.
Ranked choice voting, also called “instant runoff,” would apply in city elections where there were more than two candidates. Voters rank their choice in order of preference. If no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the first-ranked votes in the initial count, the last-place candidate is eliminated and the process is repeated until a winner is determined.
City councilors considered implementing ranked-choice voting for the March 6, 2018, election, but a majority of the council decided to delay it until 2020 because the software had yet to receive certification and because of concerns there was not enough time to educate voters about the change.