After 40 years in the newspaper business, I have a few absolutes.
I will not read columns about celebrities, much less write them.
I feign illness to avoid attending news conferences by politicians. They never say anything important in front of a gaggle.
And I refuse to root for any NFL team with cheerleaders. Scantily clad dancers are a useless sideshow.
Recently, I have added another item to my list.
I will not vote for multiple candidates running for the same office.
A District Court judge recently ordered the city of Santa Fe to use ranked-choice voting in the upcoming election, and a panel of Supreme Court justices let that decision stand.
Santa Fe voters 10 years ago authorized the election system of ranking candidates in order of preference. But it was not implemented because the necessary technology for voting machines supposedly was not available until recently.
Now the city government is using cartoon character Olivia Owl to encourage people to vote, in some order, for all five candidates running for mayor. I didn’t like it when Big Tobacco adopted a similar tactic to sell cigarettes, and it is no more palatable in an election.
The city’s display of how the new system would work shows Lucinda Lizard getting a first-place vote. Then Diego Deer, Betty Bear, Roberto Rabbit and Felix Fox are ranked 2 through 5, respectively. So clever are these bureaucrats with their alliteration.
Ranked-choice voting gets more convoluted after that.
If none of the five candidates receive more than 50 percent of the vote in the initial balloting, the last-place finisher is eliminated. People who marked a second choice on the ousted candidate’s ballot then see their votes redistributed to the contenders.
This process of converting runner-up choices into fresh first-place votes continues until one candidate breaks 50 percent or the redistribution process is exhausted. In the latter case, the leading candidate would be declared the winner, even without exceeding the threshold of 50 percent.
The real candidates for mayor — Peter Ives, Alan Webber, Kate Noble, Joseph Maestas and Ron Trujillo — are parroting one another as they campaign. Please make me your top selection, they say to voters. But if you are committed to another candidate, see your way clear to rank me second or at least third.
I want nothing to do with a system in which an also-ran might eventually emerge victorious.
True enough, an overwhelming majority in 2008 approved ranked-choice voting for city elections. But I don’t have to use it, nor will I.
Advocates call ranked-choice voting an instant runoff. That is a marketing ploy, not truth.
A real runoff is a head-to-head race between the top two vote-getters from a preliminary election. One of them always receives a majority, as Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller recently did by routing Dan Lewis in a runoff.
Ranked-choice voting does not offer any such guarantee.
Santa Fe resident Richard Molnar, who spent much of his working life as a professor of math and computer science at Macalester College, has studied ranked-choice voting. He is more tolerant of it than I am. Still, Molnar cautions against all voters ranking all candidates.
“If you really are against a candidate, you shouldn’t vote for them at all,” he said.
Years ago, the sophomoric rage was to include “none of the above” on ballots.
All of the above is just as odious.
Ranked-choice voting, as pitched by the city, means all candidates get some level of support from every voter, no matter how unqualified they are.
The new system is not for me. I will vote for the mayoral candidate I like best and ignore the rest.
One person, one vote is still a good principle.
It makes more sense than this alternative in which the city urges you to give some level of support to every candidate.
What the city is pitching might sound like an interesting experiment. The risk is that Frankenstein’s monster becomes your next mayor.
Ringside Seat is an opinion column about people, politics and news. Contact Milan Simonich at firstname.lastname@example.org or 505-986-3080.