After a unanimous vote by the Las Cruces City Council in 2018, voters participated in their first ranked choice voting (RCV) election in November 2019.
Las Cruces is the second largest city in New Mexico and voters used RCV to elect its mayor, municipal judge, and three of its six council members (from districts) using RCV.
The incumbent mayor, Ken Miyagishima, who first won as a challenger in 2007, faced far more competition this year than in prior mayoral elections, with a total of 10 candidates seeking the office. Miyagishima led in the first round with 37.0%, and ultimately won with 55.1% of the final round vote.
The three winners in the city council seats were all women, making the city council majority female for the first time. District 1 incumbent Kasandra Gandara won in the first round with over two-thirds support, while the open seat contests in the other two districts both went to multiple rounds of counting.
The state has not released turnout numbers for Las Cruces, but we can estimate turnout using eligible voter estimates from the U.S. census. By percent of citizen voting age population, turnout was the highest it has been in at least a decade. In 2007, when the present mayor first won election, turnout reached 19.1%, and it fell each successive mayoral election year, down to 14.7% in 2015 before jumping to 20.0% under RCV this year.
Dona Ana County Clerk Amanda Lopez-Askin estimates RCV will save the city and county $80,000 - $100,000 because it eliminates the need for a runoff election.
If RCV had not been in place, the 10-candidate mayoral race would have almost certainly triggered a runoff election, costing the city money and possibly reducing turnout.
Study: 53 percent of Las Cruces voters support ranked choice in future elections, Las Cruces Sun News
Rank some, rank all: Las Cruces voters adapt to first ranked choice election, Las Cruces Sun News
Combined election ballot, ranked-choice voting saves time, money, Las Cruces Bulletin