Bill Text: NY S00491 | 2021-2022 | General Assembly | Introduced


Bill Title: Establishes a ranked choice voting method for certain local elections; provides for repeal of such provisions.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Democrat 4-0)

Status: (Introduced) 2021-01-11 - RECOMMIT, ENACTING CLAUSE STRICKEN [S00491 Detail]

Download: New_York-2021-S00491-Introduced.html



                STATE OF NEW YORK
        ________________________________________________________________________

                                           491

                               2021-2022 Regular Sessions

                    IN SENATE

                                       (Prefiled)

                                     January 6, 2021
                                       ___________

        Introduced  by  Sens.  KRUEGER,  HOYLMAN, MAY, SERRANO -- read twice and
          ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee  on
          Elections

        AN  ACT  to amend the election law, in relation to establishing a ranked
          choice voting method for certain local 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 that 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 voting
     8  for a leading candidate that they perceive as the lesser of  two  evils.
     9  The  result  of  the  current system in multi-candidate races can be the
    10  election of candidates that lack majority support.
    11    The ranked choice voting method provides for the majority election for
    12  elective offices. Ranked choice voting gives voters the option  to  rank
    13  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 ranked choice voting meth-
    20  od. First, voters are free to mark their ballot for the  candidate  they
    21  truly prefer without fear that their choice will  help elect their least
    22  preferred  candidate.  Second, it insures that the elected candidate has

         EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                              [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                                   LBD04936-01-1

        S. 491                              2

     1  true majority support. In addition, the ranked choice voting method will
     2  (1) promote higher voter turnout, and (2) encourage  positive  campaign-
     3  ing,  since  candidates  will  seek second-choice and third-choice votes
     4  from voters and will therefore be less likely to attack other candidates
     5  and alienate voters that support other candidates as their first choice.
     6  In  situations where runoffs are already required, it will eliminate the
     7  need for a second runoff election, with its increased  costs  and  lower
     8  voter turnout.
     9    The  ranked  choice  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  ranked  choice
    14  voting  method on a trial basis in certain local elections at the option
    15  of local governments in the years 2024  and  2025.  This  pilot  program
    16  would  permit  the state legislature to evaluate the broader application
    17  of the ranked choice voting method to elections in New York state.
    18    § 2. The election law is amended by adding a new article 18 to read as
    19  follows:
    20                                 ARTICLE 18
    21                         RANKED CHOICE VOTING METHOD
    22  Section 18-100. Definitions.
    23          18-102. Ranked choice voting method authorized in certain cases.
    24          18-104. Ranked choice voting method; ballots.
    25          18-106. Ranked choice voting method; procedures.
    26          18-108. Voter education.
    27          18-110. Construction.
    28    § 18-100. Definitions. 1. "Ranked choice voting method" shall  mean  a
    29  method  of casting and tabulating votes that simulates the ballot counts
    30  that would occur if all  voters  participated  in  a  series  of  runoff
    31  elections,  whereby the voters rank candidates according to the order of
    32  their choice and, if no candidate has received a majority of votes cast,
    33  then the candidate with the fewest first choice votes is eliminated  and
    34  the  remaining  candidates  advance  to another counting round. In every
    35  round, each ballot is counted as one vote for the highest ranked advanc-
    36  ing candidate.
    37    2. "Local government" shall mean a county,  city,  town,  village,  or
    38  school district.
    39    §  18-102. Ranked choice voting method authorized in certain cases. 1.
    40  For elections to be held in the years two thousand twenty-four  and  two
    41  thousand twenty-five, local governments are hereby authorized to conduct
    42  elections  utilizing  the  ranked choice voting method for the following
    43  elections: (a) member of the board of education in the case of a  school
    44  district,  (b)  county  executive and county legislator in the case of a
    45  county, (c) mayor, member of city council, public advocate, comptroller,
    46  and borough president, in the case of a city, (d)  town  supervisor  and
    47  member  of town council in the case of a town, and (e) mayor and village
    48  trustee in the case of a village.  "Election" shall include the  general
    49  election and primary, where applicable.
    50    2.  In  order to implement the ranked choice voting method as provided
    51  in subdivision one of this section, the  governing  body  of  the  local
    52  government shall adopt a resolution implementing the ranked choice meth-
    53  od  as authorized by this article. Such resolution shall be subject to a
    54  permissive referendum.

        S. 491                              3

     1    3. Such resolution shall be adopted by  the  governing  board  of  the
     2  local  government  at  least one hundred eighty days before the election
     3  for which ranked choice voting will be utilized.
     4    4.  The  provisions  of  sections 18-104, 18-106, 18-108 and 18-110 of
     5  this article shall apply only when three or more  candidates  have  been
     6  nominated  or  designated for an office enumerated in subdivision one of
     7  this section, and the governing body of the local government has enacted
     8  a resolution implementing the ranked choice voting method.
     9    § 18-104. Ranked choice voting method; ballots. 1. For offices subject
    10  to the ranked choice voting method, the ballot shall be simple and  easy
    11  to  understand  and  allow  a  voter to rank candidates for an office in
    12  order of choice. A voter may include no more than one write-in candidate
    13  among that voter's ranked choices for each office. If feasible,  ballots
    14  shall be designed so that a voter may mark that voter's first choices in
    15  the  same  manner  as  that for offices not elected by the ranked choice
    16  voting method.
    17    2. Instructions on the  ballot  shall  conform  substantially  to  the
    18  following  specifications,  although  subject  to modification, based on
    19  ballot design and voting machine:
    20    "Vote for candidates by indicating  your  first-choice  candidates  in
    21  order  of  preference.  Indicate your first choice by marking the number
    22  "1" beside a candidate's name, your second choice by marking the  number
    23  "2"  beside  a candidate's name, your third choice by marking the number
    24  "3" beside a candidate's name and so on, for  as  many  choices  as  you
    25  wish.  You may choose to rank only one candidate, but ranking additional
    26  candidates will not hurt the chances of your first-choice candidate.  Do
    27  not  mark  the  same  number beside more than one candidate. Do not skip
    28  numbers."
    29    3. A sample ballot for an office subject to the ranked  choice  voting
    30  method  shall  illustrate  the  voting  procedure  for the ranked choice
    31  voting method. Such a sample ballot shall be included with each absentee
    32  ballot.
    33    4. The appropriate election official for a local government where  the
    34  ranked choice voting method has been authorized by said local government
    35  shall  insure  that the necessary voting system, vote tabulation system,
    36  or other similar or related equipment shall be available to  accommodate
    37  the ranked choice voting method.
    38    §  18-106.  Ranked  choice  voting  method;  procedures. The following
    39  procedures shall apply in determining the winner in an election  for  an
    40  office subject to the ranked choice voting method:
    41    1.  The  first choice marked on each ballot shall be counted initially
    42  by election officials. If one candidate receives a majority of the votes
    43  cast, excluding blank and void ballots, that candidate shall be declared
    44  elected.
    45    2. If no candidate receives a majority of first-choice votes  cast  at
    46  the  end of the initial count, the candidate receiving the fewest first-
    47  choice votes shall be eliminated. Each  vote  cast  for  the  eliminated
    48  candidate shall be transferred to the candidate who was the voter's next
    49  choice on the ballot.
    50    3.  Candidates  with the fewest votes shall continue to be eliminated,
    51  with the votes for such candidates transferred to the candidate who  was
    52  each  voter's  next  choice  on  the ballot until a candidate receives a
    53  majority of the votes cast, excluding blank and  void  ballots.  When  a
    54  candidate receives a majority of the votes cast, that candidate shall be
    55  declared elected.

        S. 491                              4

     1    4. If a ballot has no more available choices ranked on it, that ballot
     2  shall  be  declared exhausted. Where a ballot skips one or more numbers,
     3  that ballot shall be declared exhausted when the skipping of numbers  is
     4  reached.  A ballot with the same number for two or more candidates shall
     5  be declared exhausted when these double numbers are reached.
     6    5.  In  the  case of a tie between candidates for last place, and thus
     7  elimination, occurring at any stage in the tabulation, the tie shall  be
     8  resolved  so as to eliminate the candidate who received the least number
     9  of votes at the previous stage of tabulation. In the case of  a  tie  to
    10  which a previous stage does not apply, or such previous stage was also a
    11  tie,  the  tie  shall  be  resolved by drawing lots. However, if the tie
    12  occurs when there are only two candidates remaining, the  tie  shall  be
    13  resolved in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.
    14    §  18-108.  Voter  education.  Where  a  local government shall pass a
    15  resolution authorizing the ranked choice voting  method,  the  governing
    16  body  shall  conduct  a  voter  education  campaign on the ranked choice
    17  voting system to familiarize voters with the ballot  design,  method  of
    18  voting,  and  advantages  of  determining  a majority winner in a single
    19  election. The governing body shall use public service announcements,  as
    20  well as seek other media cooperation to the maximum extent practicable.
    21    § 18-110. Construction. All elections held by the ranked choice voting
    22  method  pursuant  to  this  article  shall  be  subject to all the other
    23  provisions of this chapter and all other  applicable  laws  relating  to
    24  elections,  so far as is applicable and not inconsistent with this chap-
    25  ter.
    26    § 3. Severability. If any provision of this  act  or  the  application
    27  thereof  shall  for  any  reason  be  adjudged by any court of competent
    28  jurisdiction to be invalid, such judgment shall not affect,  impair,  or
    29  invalidate the remainder of this act, but shall be confined in its oper-
    30  ation  to  the provision thereof directly involved in the controversy in
    31  which such judgment shall have been rendered.
    32    § 4. This act shall take effect immediately, and shall expire December
    33  31, 2026 when upon such date the provisions of this act shall be  deemed
    34  repealed.    Effective immediately the addition, amendment and/or repeal
    35  of any rule or regulation necessary for the implementation of  this  act
    36  on  its  effective  date  are  authorized to be made and completed on or
    37  before such date.
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