Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Las Cruces NM City Council Adopts RCV

Las Cruces, New Mexiso, in the next regular City Election, set for late 2019, Las Cruces Voters will see a different kind of Ballot. That's because Monday, the Las Cruces City Council Voted to adopt Ranked-Choice Voting (RCV), to avoid potential Candidate Run-offs ahead of time.

The Model allows for a sort of "instant run-off" between Top Candidates, said Robert Cabello, Senior Assistant City Attorney. "It provides voters additional choices; it's not just your primary vote," he said.

Voters on Election Day will have the option of not only selecting their Top Choice for a Seat, but their next preference for the Seat. Their Top Candidate might not be in the running to Win, but, their Second Choice could factor into an Instant Run-Off, should one be needed.

Voters can also choose to select One Candidate only, as they've always done, and Bypass the additional Rankings, said Doña Ana County Clerk Scott Krahling. He said Voting Machine software will be programmed to carry out the Instant Run-Off if one is necessary.

Now, the City Charter requires a Candidate to achieve at least 40% of the Vote to Win. Otherwise, a Run-Off is needed. Until now, that has required a follow-up Election for Voters to choose between the Top Two Contenders.

City Councilor Greg Smith asked if the City could bump up the required Voting-Percentage threshold to Win to more than 50%, a true Majority of the Vote. City Clerk Linda Lewis said she expects that the 40% threshold to remain in place for now; changing it would require Amending the City Charter, which requires an Election.

City Councilor Jack Eakman said he's heard from Constituents supporting the Ranked-Choice Measure. "I have received so many comments in favor of ranked-choice voting that I myself am going to be behind this resolution," he said before the Vote.

The City Council Voted 7-0 to Adopt the New Run-Off system.

Cabello said the Model will cost the City less than if it stayed with the current system of hosting a separate Run-Off Election.

In Las Cruces, the RCV model will first be used in the November 2019 Municipal Election. The Model was used by the City of Santa Fe in March for its Municipal Election.

The change Las Cruces City Councilors OK'd Monday is Part Two of a State Election Law Overhaul. On May 21st, the City Council Voted in favor of the First Step by "Opting In" to a Consolidated Elections Measure that will join its Municipal Election with other Public Entities' Elections.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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