SANTA FE, N.M. – The majority of Santa Fe voters sent a message to city officials in 2008: They want a change to the way local elections are conducted. They want ranked choice voting.
City voters approved a local initiative to adopt ranked choice voting for local elections in 2008. Yet nearly 10 years later, they are still waiting for it to be implemented.
So what’s the hold up?
Well, the city council recently decided to push the implementation of ranked choice voting back to an unspecified timetable. There is no way of knowing when city officials will honor the will voters, even though it is mandated by the city charter.
Some council members reportedly expressed concerns — among other things — that voting machine manufacturer Dominion would not be able to meet state-mandated deadlines to certify its new ranked choice voting software for the next city election.
There is no way of knowing when city officials will honor the will voters.
Voting machines in New Mexico must, by law, be the same, so even if other municipalities do not use ranked choice voting, the voting machines they use must have the technology capable of using it. So the state must get involved in the process as well.
FairVote’s Maria Perez, however, says the city council process and vote was suspect.
“There was no space for public comment. There were no questions from any of the organizational partners in the room, including myself,” Perez said in an interview with SantaFe.com.
She added that FairVote is ready to assist with voter education concerns. They have the staff and the resources to help, but she was not allowed to talk about that during the city council meeting.
“There was no opportunity for anybody to say anything outside of council members, and the city clerk,” she said.
Perez noted that New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver was “working diligently” on the technological issues for ranked choice voting, but no one from her office was there to answer questions either.
You can read more on the city council hearing here.
Despite the present hurdles in the way of getting this voter-approved initiative implemented, Perez says the fight to move forward on ranked choice voting is not over. Proponents will continue to explore options to get it implemented for the next city election in March.