Albuquerque bucks trend and rebuffs ranked-choice voting
The recent run of success for advocates of ranked-choice voting took a wrong turn this week in Albuquerque. The city council in New Mexico's biggest city voted 5-4 Monday night against implementing the voting system starting with this fall's municipal elections.
Advocates of the system attributed the setback to timing. They said their cause would have prevailed had the vote been held earlier in the year, before many of the council candidates had started plotting strategies for winning under the current system. As evidence they pointed to two of the state's other population centers, Las Cruces and Sante Fe, where ranked-choice voting has been embraced in the past year.
Albuquerque requires winning candidates to have a majority of the vote. If no one cracks 50 percent in the first round there's a runoff between the top two. The ranked-choice system, where voters may list a handful of candidates in order of preference, creates a sort of instant runoff: Politicians with the fewest No. 1 votes are dropped, and their ballots redistributed based on No. 2 rankings, until one candidate has a majority.
"I really think it's an interesting concept, it's something I'm not necessarily opposed to; I just don't think it's something we need at this time," council member Klarissa Peña said, predicting it would sew voter confusion.
The council signaled that, later this summer, it will debate a plan for a Nov. 5 referendum in which voters will decide whether to move to ranked-choice for the 2021 local election. Voters in New York will do something similar, and in the interim versions of RCV will be sued by Democrats in at least five states as part of their presidential delegate selection process.
"The state of Maine has gone so far as to elect their congressional representatives by ranked-choice voting, and I don't think of Maine as a radical place, so I don't think this should really be too scary for anybody," supporter Karen Bonime told the Albuquerque council.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law on Tuesday three democracy reform bills focused on local redistricting, voting access and campaign contributions.
The first piece of legislation prohibits partisan gerrymandering at the local level by establishing criteria for cities and counties to use when adjusting district boundaries. While California is the largest state to use an independent redistricting commission to draw its congressional and state district maps, local districts did not have the same regulations.
More than 22,000 Virginians with felony convictions have regained the right to vote thanks to executive actions taken by Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam since he took office in January 2018, his office announced this week.
In a statement, Northam's office said he has so far restored the civil rights of 22,205 people who had been convicted of felonies and have since completed their sentences. Those civil rights include the right to vote as well as the right to serve on juries, run for public office and become a notary public.
Northam previously announced in February that nearly 11,000 convicted felons had their voting rights restored under his watch.