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Ranked Choice Voting, Santa Fe, NM

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Santa Fe, New Mexico, United States

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Santa Fe to implement ranked-choice voting

What is Ranked Choice Voting?

Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) allows voters to rank candidates by preference instead of choosing just one.

Why change the system?

Advocates for Ranked Choice Voting argue that it promotes candidates who are able to obtain broader support than plurality elections (the current system), since the winning candidate typically has strong first-choice support and also receives a high number of second and third-place votes. RCV is also intended to give voters more choice, rather than limiting them to only supporting one candidate.

Why change the system, and why change it now?

In the 2008 election, Santa Feans voted to put RCV into the City Charter. The voting software to support RCV wasn’t available then, but was installed recently.

How do I fill out a Ranked Choice ballot?

Ranked Choice Voting is easy! Instead of choosing just one candidate, you can rank them all, from your first choice to your last.

Find the name of your first choice and completely fill in the oval next to their name in the “1st Choice” column. Then find the name of your second choice, and fill in the oval next to their name in the “2nd Choice” column. Continue until you have ranked all the candidates you choose to rank.

How are ranked choice ballots counted?

To win a ranked choice election, a candidate must receive at least a majority of total votes counted. A majority is 50% of the total, plus one vote.

After all the votes are in on Election Day, counters will tally first-choice votes. If no candidate wins a majority based on first-choice votes, the candidate with the lowest number of votes is eliminated, and the second choices on that candidate’s ballots are awarded those votes.

Votes are re-calculated, and if one candidate gets a majority, they are declared the winner. If not, we repeat the process. The candidate in last place is eliminated, and the second choice on those ballots is awarded those votes. If the second choice on those ballots has already been eliminated, the third choice is counted, and so on.

The process is repeated until one candidate reaches a majority and is declared the winner.

November 2017

SANTA FE — Santa Fe is set to become the first city in New Mexico to use ranked-choice voting after a state district court judge ruled that the city can’t postpone implementation of the election system any longer now that appropriate vote-counting software is ready to go.


Santa Fe City Council sets rules for ranked-choice voting

December 2017

More than nine years after city voters said they wanted it and 40 days before the first ballots will be cast in the 2018 municipal election, the City Council has decided how ranked-choice voting will work in Santa Fe.

Councilors, deliberating the minutiae of a ranked-choice voting ordinance at great length Wednesday night, defined various terms to establish the “rules” of how a ranked-choice election would proceed — that is, how to handle different sorts of improperly marked ballots.

Ranked-choice voting permits voters to rank candidates for office in order of preference. If no candidate collects a majority of the vote, the last-place candidate is eliminated. Voters who ranked that eliminated candidate first see their votes transferred to their next-ranked choice, and the ballots are counted again.

This process continues until a candidate crosses the “50 percent plus one vote” threshold.


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