Under New Mexico law, the state’s governor and lieutenant governor are forced to coexist in a sort of arranged marriage. Each runs in a separate primary election. This means major-party candidates for governor have no direct say-so about who will become their running mate in the general election. More importantly, says state Sen. Mark Moores, the system creates the very real possibility that the governor and lieutenant governor might not get along or agree on policy. So Moores, R-Albuquerque, and Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque, have introduced a bill to change the way lieutenant governor candidates are selected. Their proposal, Senate Bill 178, would eliminate primary elections for lieutenant governor.
Articles about voting issues in New Mexico.
By the time the 2016 presidential election rolled around, New Mexico had one of the lowest rates of voting-age citizens registered to vote. Only two-thirds of the state’s eligible voters had signed up to cast a ballot, compared to at least 80 percent in Maine and the District of Columbia, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Perhaps unsurprisingly, New Mexico also had one of the lowest rates of election turnout among its voting-age population. One state lawmaker wants to make it easier for people to vote through an amendment to the New Mexico Constitution that would require the state to ensure every citizen who is eligible to vote is at least registered.
The New Mexico Supreme Court on Tuesday cleared the way for ranked-choice voting in Santa Fe’s March 6 municipal election. The high court rejected city government’s petition seeking to overturn state District Judge David Thomson’s December ruling that Santa Fe had to implement ranked-choice voting, or RCV, in 2018. The Supreme Court’s order simply denied the city’s petition without explanation or comment. City spokesman Matt Ross said the decision was a disappointment, partly because no explanation was provided.
Santa Fe will indeed become the 12th U.S. city to use ranked-choice voting in municipal elections after the state Supreme Court on Tuesday swatted away a legal challenge to the implementation of the new format. The high court provided no explanation for its decision but effectively preserved the order of state District Court Judge David Thomson, who ruled in late November that because ranked-choice voting machine software is available, it must be used in the March election in accordance with the city’s charter. Thomson also ruled that the ranked-choice format, used in larger cities like San Francisco as well as smaller progressive enclaves such as Portland, Maine, adheres to a provision of the New Mexico constitution allowing home-rule municipalities such as Santa Fe to conduct runoff elections.
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 most populous county in New Mexico also boasts the most innovative, modern and professional polling jurisdictions in the nation. According to a new report from the UNM Center for the Study of Voting, Elections and Democracy (C-SVED), Bernalillo County is at the forefront of election administration nationally. The 2016 Bernalillo County Election Administration Report also notes the efficiency, cost-effective and high-integrity of the county’s federal elections. “This report represents voters, poll workers and election observers’ overall evaluation of the effectiveness and quality of election administration,” said Lonna Atkeson, author of the report and director of the C-SVED. “It provides valuable insights on what local election officials are doing right and wrong and where they need to focus to make improvements.”
New Mexico: Santa Fe mayor proposes money, runoff for March ranked-choice election | Albuquerque Journal
The Santa Fe City Council on Wednesday will consider two new proposals related to the March 6 municipal election, which a district court judge last month ordered to be conducted using the ranked-choice voting method. One would create a new section in the city’s election ordinance that calls for a runoff election between the top two voter-getters if no one receives a majority of all votes cast, a possibility despite ranked-choice voting’s description as an “instant runoff.” The other amends the city’s public campaign financing ordinance to allow surplus funds to be used on a public education campaign about ranked-choice voting (RCV).
Santa Fe city government late Wednesday released a draft ordinance to establish processes for ranked-choice voting, something a district court judge last week ordered the city to put in place for the municipal election on March 6. While about a dozen cities across the country hold elections using the ranked-choice voting (RCV) method, Santa Fe would be the first jurisdiction in New Mexico to do so. The City Council is expected to adopt a final version of the ordinance after a public hearing at a special meeting on Dec. 20. While the draft ordinance answers some of questions about how the election will be conducted, provided the city’s appeal of Judge David Thomson’s ruling is denied by the state Supreme Court, there’s still much to be worked out.
New Mexico: City hopes state Supreme Court settles legal questions of ranked-choice voting | Santa Fe New Mexican
Could a ranked-choice election violate the state constitution? City councilors don’t want to risk it. A majority of councilors, while agreeing Monday to support preparations for ranked-choice voting in the March municipal election, said they want city attorneys to pursue a ruling from the state Supreme Court on the voting format. Councilors said a high court decision would resolve lingering questions about ranked-choice voting, including its constitutionality, and avert a potential legal challenge to election results. “Probably the worst thing that could happen is we hold an election and someone comes back after the fact and says, ‘Oh, well, that election is invalid,’ ” said Councilor Peter Ives, one of five candidates for mayor. “Ultimately, it boils down to be a question of the integrity of the election.”
Santa Fe’s mayor and city councilors said Monday they voted unanimously during a closed-door meeting to prepare to use ranked-choice voting in the 2018 municipal election while deciding 5-4 to simultaneously appeal a recent court order forcing the system into place. The dramatic council meeting appeared to at once conclude the legal wrangling over whether the city would use the ranking system in March, while also carving out the possibility that the state’s highest court could reopen the issue before Election Day.