Bill Text: NY S00422 | 2011-2012 | General Assembly | Introduced
Bill Title: Creates a pilot program to provide for an instant runoff voting method to be used in up to ten local governments, selected by the state board of elections, in election years 2014 and 2015; requires report to state legislature. [Track Bill]
Status: 2012-03-12 - COMMITTEE DISCHARGED AND COMMITTED TO RULES [S00422 Detail]
S T A T E O F N E W Y O R K ________________________________________________________________________ 422 2011-2012 Regular Sessions I N S E N A T E (PREFILED) January 5, 2011 ___________ Introduced by Sens. KRUEGER, HASSELL-THOMPSON, HUNTLEY, PERKINS, SQUA- DRON -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be commit- ted to the Committee on Elections AN ACT to create a pilot program to test an instant runoff voting method of elections and providing for the repeal of such provisions upon expiration thereof THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: 1 Section 1. Legislative findings. The current system of voting often 2 results in the election of a candidate who does not have the majority 3 support of the electorate when there are three or more candidates 4 running for an elective office. Further, where there are three or more 5 candidates for an elective office, voters often will not vote for their 6 preferred candidate to avoid "wasting" their vote on a "spoiler" candi- 7 date. Rather, they will vote against a candidate they dislike, by 8 voting for a leading candidate that they perceive as the lesser of two 9 evils. The result of the current system in multi-candidate races can be 10 the election of candidates who lack majority support. 11 The instant runoff voting method provides for the majority election 12 for elective offices. Instant runoff voting gives voters the option to 13 rank candidates according to the order of their choice. If no candidate 14 obtains a majority of first-choice votes, then the candidate receiving 15 the fewest first-choice votes is eliminated. Each vote cast for the 16 eliminated candidate shall be transferred to the candidate who was the 17 voter's next choice on the ballot. The process is continued until a 18 candidate receives a majority of votes. 19 There are several potential benefits to the instant runoff voting 20 method. First, voters are free to mark their ballot for the candidate 21 they truly prefer without fear that their choice will help elect their 22 least preferred candidate. Second, it ensures that the elected candidate EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD00851-01-1 S. 422 2 1 has true majority support. In addition, the instant runoff voting method 2 will (1) promote higher voter turnout, and (2) encourage positive 3 campaigning, since candidates will seek second-choice and third-choice 4 votes from voters and will therefore be less likely to attack other 5 candidates and alienate voters that support other candidates as their 6 first choice. In situations where runoffs are already required, it will 7 eliminate the need for a second runoff election, with its increased 8 costs and lower voter turnout. 9 The instant runoff voting method has been the subject of increasing 10 interest across the nation. It has already been adopted by local refer- 11 enda in California, Vermont, and Massachusetts. It is under consider- 12 ation in many other states. 13 It is the purpose of this act to permit the use of the instant runoff 14 voting method on a trial basis in certain local elections in years 2013 15 and 2014. This pilot program would permit the state legislature to eval- 16 uate the broader application of the instant runoff voting method to 17 elections in New York state. 18 S 2. Definitions. 1. "Instant runoff voting method" shall mean a 19 method of casting and tabulating votes that simulates the ballot counts 20 that would occur if all voters participated in a series of runoff 21 elections, whereby the voters rank candidates according to the order of 22 their choice and, if no candidate has received a majority of votes cast, 23 then the candidate with the fewest first choice votes is eliminated and 24 the remaining candidates advance to another counting round. In every 25 round, each ballot is counted as one vote for the highest ranked advanc- 26 ing candidate. 27 2. "Local government" shall mean a county, city, town, village, or 28 school district. 29 S 3. Pilot program. 1. The state board of elections shall select local 30 governments in which to conduct a pilot program during the 2013 and 2014 31 elections for local office using instant runoff voting. The state board 32 shall select up to ten local governments in 2013 and up to ten local 33 governments in 2014. 34 2. In selecting local governments the state board shall seek diversity 35 of population size, regional location, and demographic composition. The 36 pilot program shall require the approval of the county board of 37 elections where said county board conducts the election for the local 38 government. Said pilot program shall also require the approval of the 39 local government that has been selected for the pilot program. 40 3. The state board shall monitor the pilot program and issue a report 41 with its findings and recommendations to the state legislature by April 42 1, 2015. 43 4. The state board shall implement the necessary regulations in order 44 to implement this act within ninety days after it shall have become law. 45 S 4. Instant runoff voting method; ballots. 1. For elections subject 46 to the instant runoff voting method, the ballot must be simple and easy 47 to understand and allow a voter to rank candidates in order of choice. A 48 voter may include no more than one write-in candidate among that voter's 49 ranked choices for each office. If feasible, ballots must be designed so 50 that a voter may mark that voter's first choices in the same manner as 51 that for offices not elected by the instant runoff voting method. 52 2. Instructions on the ballot must conform substantially to the 53 following specifications, although subject to modification, based on 54 ballot design and voting machine: 55 "Vote for candidates by indicating your first-choice candidates in 56 order of preference. Indicate your first choice by marking the number S. 422 3 1 "1" beside a candidate's name, your second choice by marking the number 2 "2" beside a candidate's name, your third choice by marking the number 3 "3" beside a candidate's name and so on, for as many choices as you 4 wish. You may choose to rank only one candidate, but ranking additional 5 candidates will not hurt the chances of your first-choice candidate. Do 6 not mark the same number beside more than one candidate. Do not skip 7 numbers." 8 3. A sample ballot for an election subject to the instant runoff 9 voting method must illustrate the voting procedure for the instant 10 runoff voting method. Such a sample ballot must be included with each 11 absentee ballot. 12 4. The appropriate board of elections shall ensure that the necessary 13 voting system, vote tabulation system, or other similar or related 14 equipment shall be available to accommodate the instant runoff voting 15 method where the instant runoff voting method is required by this act. 16 S 5. Instant runoff voting method; procedures. The following proce- 17 dures shall apply in determining the winner in an election subject to 18 the instant runoff voting method: 19 1. The first choice marked on each ballot must be counted initially by 20 election officials. If one candidate receives a majority of the votes 21 cast, excluding blank and void ballots, that candidate shall be declared 22 elected. 23 2. If no candidate receives a majority of first-choice votes cast at 24 the end of the initial count, the candidate receiving the fewest first- 25 choice votes shall be eliminated. Each vote cast for the eliminated 26 candidate shall be transferred to the candidate who was the voter's next 27 choice on the ballot. 28 3. Candidates with the fewest votes shall continue to be eliminated, 29 with the votes for such candidates transferred to the candidate who was 30 each voter's next choice on the ballot until a candidate receives a 31 majority of the votes cast, excluding blank and void ballots. When a 32 candidate receives a majority of the votes cast, that candidate shall be 33 declared the winner. 34 4. If a ballot has no more available choices ranked on it, that ballot 35 must be declared exhausted. Where a ballot skips one or more numbers, 36 the ballot must be declared exhausted when the skipping of numbers is 37 reached. A ballot with the same number for two or more candidates must 38 be declared exhausted when these double numbers are reached. 39 5. In the case of a tie between candidates for last place, and thus 40 elimination, occurring at any stage in the tabulation, the tie shall be 41 resolved so as to eliminate the candidate who received the least number 42 of votes at the previous stage of tabulation. In the case of a tie to 43 which a previous stage does not apply, or such previous stage was also a 44 tie, the tie shall be resolved by drawing lots. However, if the tie 45 occurs when there are only two candidates remaining, the tie shall be 46 resolved in accordance with the provisions of this chapter. 47 S 6. Voter education. Where an election is subject to the instant 48 runoff voting method, the appropriate board of elections shall conduct a 49 voter education campaign on the instant runoff voting system to famil- 50 iarize voters with the ballot design, method of voting, and advantages 51 of determining a majority winner in a single election. The board of 52 elections shall use public service announcements, as well as seek other 53 media cooperation to the maximum extent practicable. 54 S 7. Construal. All elections held by the instant runoff voting meth- 55 od pursuant to this act shall be subject to all the other provisions of S. 422 4 1 the election law and all other applicable laws relating to elections, so 2 far as is applicable and not inconsistent with this act. 3 S 8. Severability. If any provision of this act or the application 4 thereof shall for any reason be adjudged by any court of competent 5 jurisdiction to be invalid, such judgment shall not affect, impair, or 6 invalidate the remainder of this act, but shall be confined in its oper- 7 ation to the provision thereof directly involved in the controversy in 8 which such judgment shall have been rendered. 9 S 9. This act shall take effect immediately, and shall remain in full 10 force and effect until December 31, 2015 when upon such date the 11 provisions of this act shall expire and be deemed repealed.