Monday, August 22, 2011

Ranked Choice Voting

Followers of this blog are aware that the city of Santa Fe amended its charter in 2008 to require the use of Ranked Choice Voting in municipal elections. Nonetheless, the city council and administrators have not done their jobs to make sure that the will of the people is followed. So, it is looking like the city will once again use a plurality takes all system in 2012.

I think it is time for one last ditch effort to have Ranked Choice Voting in March, and I have sent the following letter to the mayor, councilors, city attorney and city clerk. If you agree that the city should follow its own laws, I hope you will take a moment to call or write your councilors and the mayor. Contact information for them is found at


Dear councilor,

Call me crazy, but I am writing to you one final time before election 2012 begins, in the earnest hope that you will create an ordinance to pave the way for implementation of Ranked Choice Voting.

As you know, the city charter calls for implementation “in 2010, or as soon thereafter as equipment and software for tabulation of votes and the ability to correct incorrectly marked, in-person ballots, is available at a reasonable price”.

We have demonstrated three ways that implementation can be achieved in the case a runoff is required. (1) by hand tallying the results; (2) by hand sorting the ballots based on first place choices and refeeding the ballots into existing machines; or (3) by buying or leasing a single machine capable of conducting the runoff.

Again, we need a simple ordinance that would allow us to use a machine other than those provided by the county, and extend the canvassing period to allow for time to conduct the runoff. The memo you recently received from the Secretary of State’s office merely reiterates that state law requires municipalities to use county machines, but it does NOT address the issue of whether the city can amend its election code for this purpose. As a home rule charter city, Santa Fe has created its own election code, and can amend it to allow use of a different voting machine.

It seems to me that the onus is on the city to show that the equipment and software is NOT available at a reasonable cost, since it has been demonstrated that the runoff can be done with existing equipment, and since the charter requires Ranked Choice Voting when that condition is met.

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