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Ranked choice voting nothing to be afraid of


It’s that time of year for all the scary ghouls and goblins.

You know, like zombies.

El Chupacabra.

And that elusive, mysterious monster, Ranked Choice Voting.

This will be the second election cycle the City of Las Cruces will apply ranked choice. It will not be used in other races in the current election, such as school board races or other municipalities.

Since it debuted in 2019, Ranked Choice Voting has drawn criticism as well as praise.

As with anything new, it takes a bit of practice to get used to it and to understand it.

It can certainly seem weird at first; we’ve spent years going into the ballot booth and picking our favorite choice (or maybe our least objectionable choice). And now we can vote for more than one candidate. In the Las Cruces mayor’s race, we can vote for all seven candidates if we want. Or you can just vote for one. Or you can vote for two or three. It’s actually kind of fun.

It’s also efficient. If no one has a majority after the first counting, the candidate with the fewest first-place votes is eliminated, and those voters’ second picks move up.

It’s basically like musical chairs. You repeat until one candidate has a majority.

Here are some things ranked choice voting is not: the bogeyman, the devil, a complex strategic ploy that somehow favors your political rival. It really isn’t any more complicated than musical chairs, and actually pretty similar.

It’s also not a system you can “game.”

I remember in the 2019 Las Cruces mayoral race, which had 10 candidates. At a pre-election mayoral forum at the Las Cruces Association of Realtors event room, candidate Isabella Solis (who’s running again this year) concluded her comments by asking attendees for their votes, a common request. Then she added a new, ranked choice wrinkle: “And vote for Ken Miyagishima last.” I assume her idea was to lessen the chances for Miyagishima, the longtime incumbent who eventually won, after nine rounds.

But if she really wanted to lessen his chances, she should have told people not to vote for Miyagishima at all. If you don’t rank a candidate, there’s no way they could move up to be your vote in a subsequent round. That’s as close as you can get to “gaming” the system. And that’s not gaming.

Basically, just vote for who you want.

If you like all seven Las Cruces mayor candidates, vote for all of them in the order you think they’d be the best mayor.

If you only like a couple of them, vote for both of them in the order you’d want.

But however you do it, just vote.