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S05616 Summary:

BILL NOS05616
 
SAME ASNo Same As
 
SPONSORKRUEGER
 
COSPNSRHOYLMAN, SERRANO
 
MLTSPNSR
 
Add Art 18 18-100 - 18-110, El L
 
Establishes an instant runoff voting method for certain local elections for races with three or more candidates; insures majority support for elected officers; provides for repeal of such provisions.
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S05616 Actions:

BILL NOS05616
 
04/20/2017REFERRED TO ELECTIONS
01/03/2018REFERRED TO ELECTIONS
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S05616 Text:



 
                STATE OF NEW YORK
        ________________________________________________________________________
 
                                          5616
 
                               2017-2018 Regular Sessions
 
                    IN SENATE
 
                                     April 20, 2017
                                       ___________
 
        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 an instant
          runoff 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 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 insures that the elected candidate
    23  has true majority support. In addition, the instant runoff voting method
 
         EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                              [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                                   LBD01920-01-7

        S. 5616                             2
 
     1  will (1) promote  higher  voter  turnout,  and  (2)  encourage  positive
     2  campaigning,  since  candidates will seek second-choice and third-choice
     3  votes from voters and will therefore be  less  likely  to  attack  other
     4  candidates  and  alienate  voters that support other candidates as their
     5  first choice. In situations where runoffs are already required, it  will
     6  eliminate  the  need  for  a  second runoff election, with its increased
     7  costs and lower voter turnout.
     8    The instant runoff 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 instant runoff
    13  voting method on a trial basis in certain local elections at the  option
    14  of  local  governments  in  the  years  2017,  2018 and 2019. This pilot
    15  program would permit the  state  legislature  to  evaluate  the  broader
    16  application of the instant runoff voting method to elections in New York
    17  state.
    18    § 2. The election law is amended by adding a new article 18 to read as
    19  follows:
    20                                  ARTICLE 18
    21                        INSTANT RUNOFF VOTING METHOD
 
    22  Section 18-100. Definitions.
    23          18-102.  Instant  runoff  voting  method  authorized  in certain
    24                     cases.
    25          18-104. Instant runoff voting method; ballots.
    26          18-106. Instant runoff voting method; procedures.
    27          18-108. Voter education.
    28          18-110. Construction.
 
    29    § 18-100. Definitions. 1. "Instant runoff voting method" shall mean  a
    30  method  of casting and tabulating votes that simulates the ballot counts
    31  that would occur if all  voters  participated  in  a  series  of  runoff
    32  elections,  whereby the voters rank candidates according to the order of
    33  their choice and, if no candidate has received a majority of votes cast,
    34  then the candidate with the fewest first choice votes is eliminated  and
    35  the  remaining  candidates  advance  to another counting round. In every
    36  round, each ballot is counted as one vote for the highest ranked advanc-
    37  ing candidate.
    38    2. "Local government" shall mean a county,  city,  town,  village,  or
    39  school district.
    40    § 18-102. Instant runoff voting method authorized in certain cases. 1.
    41  For  elections to be held in the years two thousand seventeen, two thou-
    42  sand eighteen, and two thousand nineteen, local governments  are  hereby
    43  authorized  to  conduct  elections  utilizing  the instant runoff voting
    44  method for the following elections: (a) member of the board of education
    45  in the case of a school district, (b) county executive and county legis-
    46  lator in the case of a county, (c) mayor, member of city council, public
    47  advocate, comptroller, and borough president, in the case of a city, (d)
    48  town supervisor and member of town council in the case of  a  town,  and
    49  (e)  mayor  and  village  trustee  in the case of a village.  "Election"
    50  shall include the general election and primary, where applicable.
    51    2. In order to implement the instant runoff voting method as  provided
    52  in  subdivision  one  of  this  section, the governing body of the local
    53  government shall adopt a  resolution  implementing  the  instant  runoff

        S. 5616                             3
 
     1  method  as  authorized by this article. Such resolution shall be subject
     2  to a permissive referendum.
     3    3.  Such  resolution  shall  be  adopted by the governing board of the
     4  local government at least one hundred eighty days  before  the  election
     5  for which instant runoff voting will be utilized.
     6    4.  The  provisions  of  sections 18-104, 18-106, 18-108 and 18-110 of
     7  this article shall apply only when three or more  candidates  have  been
     8  nominated  or  designated for an office enumerated in subdivision one of
     9  this section, and the governing body of the local government has enacted
    10  a resolution implementing the instant runoff voting method.
    11    § 18-104. Instant  runoff  voting  method;  ballots.  1.  For  offices
    12  subject  to the instant runoff voting method, the ballot shall be simple
    13  and easy to understand and allow a  voter  to  rank  candidates  for  an
    14  office in order of choice. A voter may include no more than one write-in
    15  candidate  among  that voter's ranked choices for each office. If feasi-
    16  ble, ballots shall be designed so that a voter  may  mark  that  voter's
    17  first  choices in the same manner as that for offices not elected by the
    18  instant runoff voting method.
    19    2. Instructions on the  ballot  shall  conform  substantially  to  the
    20  following  specifications,  although  subject  to modification, based on
    21  ballot design and voting machine:
    22    "Vote for candidates by indicating  your  first-choice  candidates  in
    23  order  of  preference.  Indicate your first choice by marking the number
    24  "1" beside a candidate's name, your second choice by marking the  number
    25  "2"  beside  a candidate's name, your third choice by marking the number
    26  "3" beside a candidate's name and so on, for  as  many  choices  as  you
    27  wish.  You may choose to rank only one candidate, but ranking additional
    28  candidates will not hurt the chances of your first-choice candidate.  Do
    29  not  mark  the  same  number beside more than one candidate. Do not skip
    30  numbers."
    31    3. A sample ballot for an office subject to the instant runoff  voting
    32  method  shall  illustrate  the  voting  procedure for the instant runoff
    33  voting method. Such a sample ballot shall be included with each absentee
    34  ballot.
    35    4. The appropriate election official for a local government where  the
    36  instant  runoff  voting method has been authorized by said local govern-
    37  ment shall insure that the  necessary  voting  system,  vote  tabulation
    38  system,  or  other  similar  or  related equipment shall be available to
    39  accommodate the instant runoff voting method.
    40    § 18-106. Instant runoff  voting  method;  procedures.  The  following
    41  procedures  shall  apply in determining the winner in an election for an
    42  office subject to the instant runoff voting method:
    43    1. The first choice marked on each ballot shall be  counted  initially
    44  by election officials. If one candidate receives a majority of the votes
    45  cast, excluding blank and void ballots, that candidate shall be declared
    46  elected.
    47    2.  If  no candidate receives a majority of first-choice votes cast at
    48  the end of the initial count, the candidate receiving the fewest  first-
    49  choice  votes  shall  be  eliminated.  Each vote cast for the eliminated
    50  candidate shall be transferred to the candidate who was the voter's next
    51  choice on the ballot.
    52    3. Candidates with the fewest votes shall continue to  be  eliminated,
    53  with  the votes for such candidates transferred to the candidate who was
    54  each voter's next choice on the ballot  until  a  candidate  receives  a
    55  majority  of  the  votes  cast, excluding blank and void ballots. When a

        S. 5616                             4
 
     1  candidate receives a majority of the votes cast, that candidate shall be
     2  declared elected.
     3    4. If a ballot has no more available choices ranked on it, that ballot
     4  shall  be  declared exhausted. Where a ballot skips one or more numbers,
     5  that ballot shall be declared exhausted when the skipping of numbers  is
     6  reached.  A ballot with the same number for two or more candidates shall
     7  be declared exhausted when these double numbers are reached.
     8    5. In the case of a tie between candidates for last  place,  and  thus
     9  elimination,  occurring at any stage in the tabulation, the tie shall be
    10  resolved so as to eliminate the candidate who received the least  number
    11  of  votes  at  the previous stage of tabulation. In the case of a tie to
    12  which a previous stage does not apply, or such previous stage was also a
    13  tie, the tie shall be resolved by drawing  lots.  However,  if  the  tie
    14  occurs  when  there  are only two candidates remaining, the tie shall be
    15  resolved in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.
    16    § 18-108. Voter education. Where  a  local  government  shall  pass  a
    17  resolution  authorizing  the instant runoff voting method, the governing
    18  body shall conduct a voter education  campaign  on  the  instant  runoff
    19  voting  system  to  familiarize voters with the ballot design, method of
    20  voting, and advantages of determining a  majority  winner  in  a  single
    21  election.  The governing body shall use public service announcements, as
    22  well as seek other media cooperation to the maximum extent practicable.
    23    § 18-110. Construction. All  elections  held  by  the  instant  runoff
    24  voting method pursuant to this article shall be subject to all the other
    25  provisions  of  this  chapter  and all other applicable laws relating to
    26  elections, so far as is applicable and not inconsistent with this  chap-
    27  ter.
    28    §  3.  Severability.  If  any provision of this act or the application
    29  thereof shall for any reason be  adjudged  by  any  court  of  competent
    30  jurisdiction  to  be invalid, such judgment shall not affect, impair, or
    31  invalidate the remainder of this act, but shall be confined in its oper-
    32  ation to the provision thereof directly involved in the  controversy  in
    33  which such judgment shall have been rendered.
    34    § 4. This act shall take effect immediately, and shall expire December
    35  31,  2022 when upon such date the provisions of this act shall be deemed
    36  repealed.
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