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A guide to ranked choice voting


One feature of the current election is Ranked Choice Voting.

However, it is only applicable in races involving the City of Las Cruces. Ranked Choice Voting is not applicable for other municipalities that have races in the election, or school board elections.

The City of Las Cruces adopted Ranked Choice Voting in 2021.

RCV is sometimes described as instant run-off voting, because in races with more than two candidates and no one gets more than 50 percent of the votes, the ranked choices kick in, and a run-off election is avoided.

Here’s how it works.

In a ranked choice race, voters put a 1 next to their top choice, a 2 to their second choice and so on.

If there are seven candidates you can rank all seven 1 to 7, you can vote for just your top choice, or you can vote for any number in between.

Voters are not required to rank all of the candidates in the race, just the ones they want to vote for. But they should vote for at least one.

Dona Ana County Clerk Amanda Lopez Askin recognizes many are unfamiliar with RCV, but recommends voters exercise the options.

“If anyone is hesitant about ranked choice voting, they should vote at for at least one candidate,” said Askin, who calls the one-vote method “classic voting.”

“But voters should recognize if they only vote for one, they forfeit their right to participate in subsequent runoff founds,“ Askin added.

She also squashed rumors that ballots that only have one candidate marked in an RCV race would be thrown out.

“The idea that we would not count a vote, for any reason, is absolutely false,” she said.

For the first round of an RCV race, all the 1s are counted. If a candidate gets more than 50 percent first-choice votes, they are the winner.

If no one gets more than 50 percent, the one with the fewest 1 votes is eliminated, and the first instant runoff kicks in. If your No. 1 candidate is eliminated, your vote for second-choice candidate is applied to that candidate. If all of those second-choice votes give one of the candidates a majority, that candidate is the winner.

If no one still gets a majority, the remaining candidate with the least 1 votes is eliminated, and those voters’ second-choice candidate votes are applied. If a candidate has a majority at that point, they are the winner. If not, the process repeats until a candidate has more than 50 percent of the votes.

A helpful video from the City of Las Cruces explaining the process can be found at:


This year, ranked choices will only apply in three races, all in the City of Las Cruces: the mayor’s race, which has seven candidates; City Council District 1, five candidates; and City Council District 4, four candidates.

Ranked choice does not apply in uncontested races, nor will it apply in the race for City Council District 2, which has only two candidates.