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What’s the (Voting) Matter?

In Brief

January 5, 2011, 1:00 am

Rick Lass, director of the electoral-reform group Voting Matters, is tired of talking about ranked-choice voting. The system allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference, which advocates say ensures candidates are elected by majority vote, and increases voter participation.

In 2008, Santa Fe voters approved a city charter amendment that called for ranked-choice voting as well as publicly funded campaigns—but neither has actually been implemented. (Santa Fe City Clerk Yolanda Vigil says a fund has been started for publicly financed campaigns but hasn’t yet been used.)

“I’m frustrated that I still have to work on this!” Lass, a former Green Party candidate for Public Regulation Commissioner, tells SFR. “Once you win an election, you should get to see your results.”

Lass says he’s been urging the City Council to pass an ordinance to allow ranked-choice voting, but to no avail—even though cities such as Oakland, Calif., have implemented it with success.

But Vigil says the city’s current voting machines are a problem.

“The present equipment approved by the Secretary of State, the M100 Tabulator that we rent from the county, does not have the software capabilities to do ranked-choice voting,” Vigil says.

Lass, however, says the city could purchase other machines and approve them via city ordinance—if the political will were there.

“We voted for it,” Lass says. “Now it’s incumbent on the City Council and the mayor to make it happen.”


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