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Santa Fe Voters Sue City Officials to Get Ranked Choice Voting

Author: Fair Vote
Created: 01 September, 2017
Updated: 17 October, 2022
2 min read

Santa Fe voters took action by filing a lawsuit asking the state Supreme Court of New Mexico to order the use of Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) in Santa Fe’s municipal elections next March. FairVote New Mexico strongly supports this legal action.

This lawsuit was not our first choice. We would have preferred -- and still would prefer -- to have the city council uphold the city charter and institute RCV as voters have overwhelmingly supported.

Indeed, it was nine years ago that a resounding majority of Santa Fe’s voters -- 65 percent -- backed a charter amendment that required all candidates for municipal office be elected with majority support via Ranked Choice Voting. The charter specifies that RCV must go into effect as soon as the proper equipment and software becomes available at a reasonable price.

That time has arrived: The software is now available at no cost to Santa Fe, and will be included on the state-certified voting machines that will be used in the city’s March elections.

The city council, however, has voted to delay implementation, which necessitates action.

Santa Fe voters have waited long enough. The conditions necessary to implement Ranked Choice Voting for Santa Fe’s city elections in March have been fully met.

In addition, there is ample time to test the software and educate voters on the new voting system. The Ranked Choice Voting Resource Center stands ready to provide sample materials, best practices, and consultation at no cost, and FairVote New Mexico, in collaboration with several local organizations are ready to implement its comprehensive voter education campaign.

We have tried to convince city councilors to follow the charter. Now it is time for a different path. We are simply asking that the state Supreme Court order the city to meet its obligation -- both legal and moral -- under the city charter and enact the better elections that a decisive majority have demanded.

The will of the voters is that their mayor, city councilors and other city officials win by a majority. Ranked Choice Voting makes that possible -- while providing voters with more choices, a stronger voice at the polls, and better campaigns.

There can be no greater public interest than ensuring that the voters’ decision be honored, respected -- and implemented.

We are fortunate to be represented by Santa Fe attorney Teresa Leger de Fernandez. She is expanding on 26 years as General Counsel to several Native American Tribes, as well as work with national and local civil rights and economic development organizations.

Since 2010, Leger de Fernandez has successfully brought up the voting rights act in redistricting cases to make voting more fair for Native Americans every time the issue of redistricting has come up.

President Obama appointed Fernandez to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and then elevated her to Vice Chair of the Council. She also served as the Vice President of MALDEF (the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund).

Read the lawsuit:

Editor's note: This article, written by Maria Perez, originally published on FairVote's blog, and has been modified slightly for publication on IVN.

Photo Credit: vepar5 / shutterstock.com