Bill Text: NY S02717 | 2019-2020 | 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) 2020-01-08 - REFERRED TO ELECTIONS [S02717 Detail]

Download: New_York-2019-S02717-Introduced.html


                STATE OF NEW YORK
        ________________________________________________________________________
                                          2717
                               2019-2020 Regular Sessions
                    IN SENATE
                                    January 29, 2019
                                       ___________
        Introduced  by Sens. KRUEGER, HOYLMAN, 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
    23  true majority support. In addition, the ranked choice voting method will
         EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                              [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                                   LBD00007-02-9

        S. 2717                             2
     1  (1) promote higher voter turnout, and (2) encourage  positive  campaign-
     2  ing,  since  candidates  will  seek second-choice and third-choice votes
     3  from voters and will therefore be less likely to attack other candidates
     4  and alienate voters that support other candidates as their first choice.
     5  In  situations where runoffs are already required, it will eliminate the
     6  need for a second runoff election, with its increased  costs  and  lower
     7  voter turnout.
     8    The  ranked  choice  voting  method has been the subject of increasing
     9  interest across the nation. It has already been adopted by local  refer-
    10  enda  in  California,  Vermont, and Massachusetts. It is under consider-
    11  ation in many other states.
    12    It is the purpose of this act to permit the use of the  ranked  choice
    13  voting  method on a trial basis in certain local elections at the option
    14  of local governments in the years 2022  and  2023.  This  pilot  program
    15  would  permit  the state legislature to evaluate the broader application
    16  of the ranked choice voting method to elections in New York state.
    17    § 2. The election law is amended by adding a new article 18 to read as
    18  follows:
    19                                 ARTICLE 18
    20                         RANKED CHOICE VOTING METHOD
    21  Section 18-100. Definitions.
    22          18-102. Ranked choice voting method authorized in certain cases.
    23          18-104. Ranked choice voting method; ballots.
    24          18-106. Ranked choice voting method; procedures.
    25          18-108. Voter education.
    26          18-110. Construction.
    27    § 18-100. Definitions. 1. "Ranked choice voting method" shall  mean  a
    28  method  of casting and tabulating votes that simulates the ballot counts
    29  that would occur if all  voters  participated  in  a  series  of  runoff
    30  elections,  whereby the voters rank candidates according to the order of
    31  their choice and, if no candidate has received a majority of votes cast,
    32  then the candidate with the fewest first choice votes is eliminated  and
    33  the  remaining  candidates  advance  to another counting round. In every
    34  round, each ballot is counted as one vote for the highest ranked advanc-
    35  ing candidate.
    36    2. "Local government" shall mean a county,  city,  town,  village,  or
    37  school district.
    38    §  18-102. Ranked choice voting method authorized in certain cases. 1.
    39  For elections to be held in the years two thousand  twenty-two  and  two
    40  thousand  twenty-three,  local  governments  are  hereby  authorized  to
    41  conduct elections utilizing the ranked  choice  voting  method  for  the
    42  following elections: (a) member of the board of education in the case of
    43  a  school  district,  (b)  county executive and county legislator in the
    44  case of a county, (c) mayor, member of city  council,  public  advocate,
    45  comptroller,  and  borough  president,  in  the case of a city, (d) town
    46  supervisor and member of town council in the case of  a  town,  and  (e)
    47  mayor  and  village  trustee in the case of a village.  "Election" shall
    48  include the general election and primary, where applicable.
    49    2. In order to implement the ranked choice voting method  as  provided
    50  in  subdivision  one  of  this  section, the governing body of the local
    51  government shall adopt a resolution implementing the ranked choice meth-
    52  od as authorized by this article. Such resolution shall be subject to  a
    53  permissive referendum.
    54    3.  Such  resolution  shall  be  adopted by the governing board of the
    55  local government at least one hundred eighty days  before  the  election
    56  for which ranked choice voting will be utilized.

        S. 2717                             3
     1    4.  The  provisions  of  sections 18-104, 18-106, 18-108 and 18-110 of
     2  this article shall apply only when three or more  candidates  have  been
     3  nominated  or  designated for an office enumerated in subdivision one of
     4  this section, and the governing body of the local government has enacted
     5  a resolution implementing the ranked choice voting method.
     6    § 18-104. Ranked choice voting method; ballots. 1. For offices subject
     7  to  the ranked choice voting method, the ballot shall be simple and easy
     8  to understand and allow a voter to rank  candidates  for  an  office  in
     9  order of choice. A voter may include no more than one write-in candidate
    10  among  that voter's ranked choices for each office. If feasible, ballots
    11  shall be designed so that a voter may mark that voter's first choices in
    12  the same manner as that for offices not elected  by  the  ranked  choice
    13  voting method.
    14    2.  Instructions  on  the  ballot  shall  conform substantially to the
    15  following specifications, although subject  to  modification,  based  on
    16  ballot design and voting machine:
    17    "Vote  for  candidates  by  indicating your first-choice candidates in
    18  order of preference. Indicate your first choice by  marking  the  number
    19  "1"  beside a candidate's name, your second choice by marking the number
    20  "2" beside a candidate's name, your third choice by marking  the  number
    21  "3"  beside  a  candidate's  name  and so on, for as many choices as you
    22  wish. You may choose to rank only one candidate, but ranking  additional
    23  candidates  will not hurt the chances of your first-choice candidate. Do
    24  not mark the same number beside more than one  candidate.  Do  not  skip
    25  numbers."
    26    3.  A  sample ballot for an office subject to the ranked choice voting
    27  method shall illustrate the  voting  procedure  for  the  ranked  choice
    28  voting method. Such a sample ballot shall be included with each absentee
    29  ballot.
    30    4.  The appropriate election official for a local government where the
    31  ranked choice voting method has been authorized by said local government
    32  shall insure that the necessary voting system, vote  tabulation  system,
    33  or  other similar or related equipment shall be available to accommodate
    34  the ranked choice voting method.
    35    § 18-106. Ranked  choice  voting  method;  procedures.  The  following
    36  procedures  shall  apply in determining the winner in an election for an
    37  office subject to the ranked choice voting method:
    38    1. The first choice marked on each ballot shall be  counted  initially
    39  by election officials. If one candidate receives a majority of the votes
    40  cast, excluding blank and void ballots, that candidate shall be declared
    41  elected.
    42    2.  If  no candidate receives a majority of first-choice votes cast at
    43  the end of the initial count, the candidate receiving the fewest  first-
    44  choice  votes  shall  be  eliminated.  Each vote cast for the eliminated
    45  candidate shall be transferred to the candidate who was the voter's next
    46  choice on the ballot.
    47    3. Candidates with the fewest votes shall continue to  be  eliminated,
    48  with  the votes for such candidates transferred to the candidate who was
    49  each voter's next choice on the ballot  until  a  candidate  receives  a
    50  majority  of  the  votes  cast, excluding blank and void ballots. When a
    51  candidate receives a majority of the votes cast, that candidate shall be
    52  declared elected.
    53    4. If a ballot has no more available choices ranked on it, that ballot
    54  shall be declared exhausted. Where a ballot skips one or  more  numbers,
    55  that  ballot shall be declared exhausted when the skipping of numbers is

        S. 2717                             4
     1  reached. A ballot with the same number for two or more candidates  shall
     2  be declared exhausted when these double numbers are reached.
     3    5.  In  the  case of a tie between candidates for last place, and thus
     4  elimination, occurring at any stage in the tabulation, the tie shall  be
     5  resolved  so as to eliminate the candidate who received the least number
     6  of votes at the previous stage of tabulation. In the case of  a  tie  to
     7  which a previous stage does not apply, or such previous stage was also a
     8  tie,  the  tie  shall  be  resolved by drawing lots. However, if the tie
     9  occurs when there are only two candidates remaining, the  tie  shall  be
    10  resolved in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.
    11    §  18-108.  Voter  education.  Where  a  local government shall pass a
    12  resolution authorizing the ranked choice voting  method,  the  governing
    13  body  shall  conduct  a  voter  education  campaign on the ranked choice
    14  voting system to familiarize voters with the ballot  design,  method  of
    15  voting,  and  advantages  of  determining  a majority winner in a single
    16  election. The governing body shall use public service announcements,  as
    17  well as seek other media cooperation to the maximum extent practicable.
    18    § 18-110. Construction. All elections held by the ranked choice voting
    19  method  pursuant  to  this  article  shall  be  subject to all the other
    20  provisions of this chapter and all other  applicable  laws  relating  to
    21  elections,  so far as is applicable and not inconsistent with this chap-
    22  ter.
    23    § 3. Severability. If any provision of this  act  or  the  application
    24  thereof  shall  for  any  reason  be  adjudged by any court of competent
    25  jurisdiction to be invalid, such judgment shall not affect,  impair,  or
    26  invalidate the remainder of this act, but shall be confined in its oper-
    27  ation  to  the provision thereof directly involved in the controversy in
    28  which such judgment shall have been rendered.
    29    § 4. This act shall take effect immediately, and shall expire December
    30  31, 2024 when upon such date the provisions of this act shall be  deemed
    31  repealed.    Effective immediately the addition, amendment and/or repeal
    32  of any rule or regulation necessary for the implementation of  this  act
    33  on  its  effective  date  are  authorized to be made and completed on or
    34  before such date.
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