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S02517 Summary:

BILL NOS02517
 
SAME ASSAME AS A07387
 
SPONSORKRUEGER
 
COSPNSRLIU, MAY
 
MLTSPNSR
 
 
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 2022 and 2023; requires report to state legislature.
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S02517 Actions:

BILL NOS02517
 
01/25/2019REFERRED TO ELECTIONS
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S02517 Text:



 
                STATE OF NEW YORK
        ________________________________________________________________________
 
                                          2517
 
                               2019-2020 Regular Sessions
 
                    IN SENATE
 
                                    January 25, 2019
                                       ___________
 
        Introduced  by  Sen. KRUEGER -- read twice and ordered printed, and when
          printed to be committed to the Committee on Elections
 
        AN ACT to create a pilot program to test a ranked choice  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 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 ensures that the elected  candidate  has
    23  true majority support. In addition, the ranked choice voting method will
    24  (1)  promote  higher voter turnout, and (2) encourage positive campaign-
 
         EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                              [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                                   LBD00008-01-9

        S. 2517                             2
 
     1  ing, since candidates will seek  second-choice  and  third-choice  votes
     2  from voters and will therefore be less likely to attack other candidates
     3  and alienate voters that support other candidates as their first choice.
     4  In  situations where runoffs are already required, it will eliminate the
     5  need for a second runoff election, with its increased  costs  and  lower
     6  voter turnout.
     7    The  ranked  choice  voting  method has been the subject of increasing
     8  interest across the nation. It has already been adopted by local  refer-
     9  enda  in  California,  Vermont, and Massachusetts. It is under consider-
    10  ation in many other states.
    11    It is the purpose of this act to permit the use of the  ranked  choice
    12  voting  method on a trial basis in certain local elections in years 2022
    13  and 2023. This pilot program would permit the state legislature to eval-
    14  uate the broader application of the  instant  runoff  voting  method  to
    15  elections in New York state.
    16    § 2.  Definitions. 1. "Ranked choice voting method" shall mean a meth-
    17  od of casting and tabulating votes that simulates the ballot counts that
    18  would  occur if all voters participated in a series of runoff elections,
    19  whereby the voters rank candidates  according  to  the  order  of  their
    20  choice  and, if no candidate has received a majority of votes cast, then
    21  the candidate with the fewest first choice votes is eliminated  and  the
    22  remaining  candidates advance to another counting round. In every round,
    23  each ballot is counted as one vote  for  the  highest  ranked  advancing
    24  candidate.
    25    2.  "Local  government"  shall  mean a county, city, town, village, or
    26  school district.
    27    § 3. Pilot program. 1. The state board of elections shall select local
    28  governments in which to conduct a pilot program during the 2022 and 2023
    29  elections for local office using ranked choice voting. The  state  board
    30  shall  select  up  to  ten local governments in 2022 and up to ten local
    31  governments in 2023.
    32    2. In selecting local governments the state board shall seek diversity
    33  of population size, regional location, and demographic composition.  The
    34  pilot  program  shall  require  the  approval  of  the  county  board of
    35  elections where said county board conducts the election  for  the  local
    36  government.  Said  pilot  program shall also require the approval of the
    37  local government that has been selected for the pilot program.
    38    3. The state board shall monitor the pilot program and issue a  report
    39  with  its findings and recommendations to the state legislature by April
    40  1, 2024.
    41    4. The state board shall implement the necessary regulations in  order
    42  to implement this act within ninety days after it shall have become law.
    43    §  4.   Ranked choice voting method; ballots. 1. For elections subject
    44  to the ranked choice voting method, the ballot must be simple  and  easy
    45  to understand and allow a voter to rank candidates in order of choice. A
    46  voter may include no more than one write-in candidate among that voter's
    47  ranked choices for each office. If feasible, ballots must be designed so
    48  that  a  voter may mark that voter's first choices in the same manner as
    49  that for offices not elected by the ranked choice voting method.
    50    2. Instructions on  the  ballot  must  conform  substantially  to  the
    51  following  specifications,  although  subject  to modification, based on
    52  ballot design and voting machine:
    53    "Vote for candidates by indicating  your  first-choice  candidates  in
    54  order  of  preference.  Indicate your first choice by marking the number
    55  "1" beside a candidate's name, your second choice by marking the  number
    56  "2"  beside  a candidate's name, your third choice by marking the number

        S. 2517                             3
 
     1  "3" beside a candidate's name and so on, for  as  many  choices  as  you
     2  wish.  You may choose to rank only one candidate, but ranking additional
     3  candidates  will not hurt the chances of your first-choice candidate. Do
     4  not  mark  the  same  number beside more than one candidate. Do not skip
     5  numbers."
     6    3. A sample ballot for an election subject to the ranked choice voting
     7  method must illustrate the voting procedure for the ranked choice voting
     8  method. Such a sample ballot must be included with each absentee ballot.
     9    4. The appropriate board of elections shall ensure that the  necessary
    10  voting  system,  vote  tabulation  system,  or  other similar or related
    11  equipment shall be available to accommodate  the  ranked  choice  voting
    12  method where the ranked choice voting method is required by this act.
    13    § 5. Ranked choice voting method; procedures. The following procedures
    14  shall  apply  in  determining  the  winner in an election subject to the
    15  ranked choice voting method:
    16    1. The first choice marked on each ballot must be counted initially by
    17  election officials. If one candidate receives a majority  of  the  votes
    18  cast, excluding blank and void ballots, that candidate shall be declared
    19  elected.
    20    2.  If  no candidate receives a majority of first-choice votes cast at
    21  the end of the initial count, the candidate receiving the fewest  first-
    22  choice  votes  shall  be  eliminated.  Each vote cast for the eliminated
    23  candidate shall be transferred to the candidate who was the voter's next
    24  choice on the ballot.
    25    3. Candidates with the fewest votes shall continue to  be  eliminated,
    26  with  the votes for such candidates transferred to the candidate who was
    27  each voter's next choice on the ballot  until  a  candidate  receives  a
    28  majority  of  the  votes  cast, excluding blank and void ballots. When a
    29  candidate receives a majority of the votes cast, that candidate shall be
    30  declared the winner.
    31    4. If a ballot has no more available choices ranked on it, that ballot
    32  must be declared exhausted. Where a ballot skips one  or  more  numbers,
    33  the  ballot  must  be declared exhausted when the skipping of numbers is
    34  reached. A ballot with the same number for two or more  candidates  must
    35  be declared exhausted when these double numbers are reached.
    36    5.  In  the  case of a tie between candidates for last place, and thus
    37  elimination, occurring at any stage in the tabulation, the tie shall  be
    38  resolved  so as to eliminate the candidate who received the least number
    39  of votes at the previous stage of tabulation. In the case of  a  tie  to
    40  which a previous stage does not apply, or such previous stage was also a
    41  tie,  the  tie  shall  be  resolved by drawing lots. However, if the tie
    42  occurs when there are only two candidates remaining, the  tie  shall  be
    43  resolved in accordance with the provisions of this act.
    44    §  6.  Voter  education.  Where  an  election is subject to the ranked
    45  choice voting method, the appropriate board of elections shall conduct a
    46  voter education campaign on the ranked choice voting system to familiar-
    47  ize voters with the ballot design, method of voting, and  advantages  of
    48  determining  a  majority  winner  in  a  single  election.  The board of
    49  elections shall use public service announcements, as well as seek  other
    50  media cooperation to the maximum extent practicable.
    51    § 7.  Construal. All elections held by the ranked choice voting method
    52  pursuant to this act shall be subject to all the other provisions of the
    53  election law and all other applicable laws relating to elections, so far
    54  as is applicable and not inconsistent with this act.
    55    §  8.    Severability. If any provision of this act or the application
    56  thereof shall for any reason be  adjudged  by  any  court  of  competent

        S. 2517                             4
 
     1  jurisdiction  to  be invalid, such judgment shall not affect, impair, or
     2  invalidate the remainder of this act, but shall be confined in its oper-
     3  ation to the provision thereof directly involved in the  controversy  in
     4  which such judgment shall have been rendered.
     5    §  9. This act shall take effect immediately, and shall remain in full
     6  force and effect until  December  31,  2024  when  upon  such  date  the
     7  provisions  of  this act shall expire and be deemed repealed.  Effective
     8  immediately the addition, amendment and/or repeal of any rule  or  regu-
     9  lation  necessary  for  the  implementation of this act on its effective
    10  date are authorized to be made on or before such date.
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