Sunday, January 9, 2011

More Press on Ranked Choice

The following "My View" appeared in the Santa fe New Mexican on Saturday, January 8.

Ranked Choice Voting In Peril
by Rick Lass

In March, 2008, Santa Fe voters approved seven amendments to our city charter, including provisions for public campaign financing and ranked choice voting. At the time, I was quoted in this newspaper as saying that winning the election was the easy part, and getting the city to make the change would be the sticking point.

Fortunately, the city council acted to codify a specific system for public campaign financing, and details will be fleshed out in time for the 2012 elections. Ranked choice voting, however, has not received the attention needed to ensure that it also will be implemented in 2012.

City administrators have apparently decided that ranked choice voting would be too much work, and point to an escape clause in the charter language that requires "equipment and software for tabulation of available at a reasonable price." But, over a year ago, in October 2009, there was a demonstration conducted showing how ballots could be tallied using existing equipment and software. Nevertheless, the city council opted to delay implementation of ranked choice voting.

Unfortunately, the fact that Santa Fe residents voted overwhelmingly to adopt ranked choice voting does not necessarily mean that the city government will take the steps to make it happen. If we want ranked choice voting in place for the March 2012 elections, we need to continue to campaign for it.

Three California cities, Oakland, Berkeley, and San Leandro all conducted their first ranked ballot elections last month, with positive results. Specifically, Oakland would have elected a mayor who had the support of only 34% of voters, but after the runoff was conducted, instead elected a woman who received over 50% of the vote. Santa Fe deserves to have elected officials who have majority support.

I urge everyone interested in fair elections and responsive government to call upon the mayor and your councilors and tell them that it is their responsibility to make sure Santa Fe uses ranked choice voting in 2012. Further delays are unacceptable.

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