senate Bill S3250

Amended

Establishes an instant runoff voting method for certain local elections; provides for repeal of such provisions

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Bill Status


  • Introduced
  • In Committee
  • On Floor Calendar
    • Passed Senate
    • Passed Assembly
  • Delivered to Governor
  • Signed/Vetoed by Governor
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actions

  • 31 / Jan / 2013
    • REFERRED TO ELECTIONS
  • 08 / Jan / 2014
    • REFERRED TO ELECTIONS
  • 24 / Jan / 2014
    • AMEND AND RECOMMIT TO ELECTIONS
  • 24 / Jan / 2014
    • PRINT NUMBER 3250A

Summary

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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Bill Details

See Assembly Version of this Bill:
A2109
Versions:
S3250
S3250A
Legislative Cycle:
2013-2014
Current Committee:
Senate Elections
Law Section:
Election Law
Laws Affected:
Add Art 18 ยงยง18-100 - 18-110, El L
Versions Introduced in Previous Legislative Cycles:
2011-2012: A6398A, A6398A
2009-2010: A3281C, A3281C
2007-2008: A8235, A8235

Sponsor Memo

BILL NUMBER:S3250

TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the election law, in relation to estab-
lishing an instant runoff voting method for certain local elections and
providing for the repeal of such provisions upon expiration thereof

PURPOSE: To permit the use of the instant run off voting method on a
trial basis in elections in the years 2012, 2013 and 2014. This pilot
program would permit the State Legislature to evaluate the broader
application of the instant runoff voting method.

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: A new Article 18 of the election law is estab-
lished.

EXISTING LAN: None.

JUSTIFICATION: The current system of elections often results in the
election of a candidate that does not have the majority of support when
there are three or more candidates. Further, where there are three or
more candidates in an election, voters often will not vote for their
preferred candidate to avoid "wasting" their vote on a "spoiler" candi-
date. Rather, they will vote against a candidate they dislike, by voting
for a leading candidate that they perceive as the lesser of two evils.
The result of the current system in multi-candidate elections can be the
selection of candidates that lack majority party support. In the City of
New York, where runoff elections are required for certain offices, where
no candidate receives 40% or more of the vote, the result is often the
conduct of a separate, expensive run-off primary that often results in
reduced participation at the run-off election. The instant runoff voting
(IRV) method provides for the majority election for elective offices.
IRV gives voters the option to rank candidates according to the order of
their choice. If no candidate obtains a majority of first choice votes,
then the candidate receiving the fewest first-choice votes is elimi-
nated. Each vote cast for the eliminated candidate shall be Transferred
to the candidate who was the voter's next choice on the ballot. The
process is continued until a candidate receives a majority of the votes.
The instant runoff voting method has been the subject of increasing
interest across the nation. It has already been adopted by local refer-
enda in California, Vermont, and Massachusetts.

There are several potential benefits to the IRV method. Firsts voters
are free to mark up their ballot for the candidate they truly prefer
without fear that their choice will help elect their least favorable
candidate. Second, it insures that the elected candidate has a true
majority support. In addition, the IRV method will (1) promote higher
voter turnout, and (2) encourage positive campaigning, since candidates
will seek second-choice and third-choice votes from voters and will
therefore be less likely to attack other candidates and alienate voters
that support other candidates as their first choice. In situations where
runoffs axe already required, it will eliminate the need for a second
runoff election, with its increased costs and lower voter turnout.

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: Negligible.

LOCAL FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: Negligible.

EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect immediately, and shall
expire December 31, 2018 when upon such date the provisions of this act
shall be deemed repealed.

view bill text
                    S T A T E   O F   N E W   Y O R K
________________________________________________________________________

                                  3250

                       2013-2014 Regular Sessions

                            I N  S E N A T E

                            January 31, 2013
                               ___________

Introduced  by  Sen. KRUEGER -- 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:

  Section  1.  Legislative  findings. The current system of voting often
results in the election of a candidate that does not  have the  majority
support  of  the  electorate  when  there  are  three or more candidates
running for an elective office. Further, where there are three  or  more
candidates  for an elective office, voters often will not vote for their
preferred candidate to avoid "wasting" their vote on a "spoiler"  candi-
date. Rather, they will vote against a candidate they dislike, by voting
for  a  leading candidate that they perceive as the lesser of two evils.
The result of the current system in multi-candidate  races  can  be  the
election of candidates that lack majority support.
  The  instant  runoff  voting method provides for the majority election
for elective offices. Instant runoff voting gives voters the  option  to
rank  candidates according to the order of their choice. If no candidate
obtains a majority of first-choice votes, then the  candidate  receiving
the  fewest  first-choice  votes  is  eliminated. Each vote cast for the
eliminated candidate shall be transferred to the candidate who  was  the
voter's  next  choice  on  the  ballot. The process is continued until a
candidate receives a majority of votes.
  There are several potential benefits  to  the  instant  runoff  voting
method.  First,  voters  are free to mark their ballot for the candidate
they truly prefer without fear that their choice will  help elect  their
least preferred candidate. Second, it insures that the elected candidate
has true majority support. In addition, the instant runoff voting method
will  (1)  promote  higher  voter  turnout,  and  (2) encourage positive

 EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                      [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                           LBD03242-01-3

S. 3250                             2

campaigning, since candidates will seek second-choice  and  third-choice
votes  from  voters  and  will  therefore be less likely to attack other
candidates and alienate voters that support other  candidates  as  their
first  choice. In situations where runoffs are already required, it will
eliminate the need for a second  runoff  election,  with  its  increased
costs and lower voter turnout.
  The  instant  runoff  voting method has been the subject of increasing
interest across the nation. It has already been adopted by local  refer-
enda  in  California,  Vermont, and Massachusetts. It is under consider-
ation in many other states.
  It is the purpose of this act to permit the use of the instant  runoff
voting  method on a trial basis in certain local elections at the option
of local governments in the  years  2013,  2014  and  2015.  This  pilot
program  would  permit  the  state  legislature  to evaluate the broader
application of the instant runoff voting method to elections in New York
state.
  S 2. The election law is amended by adding a new article 18 to read as
follows:
                                ARTICLE 18
                      INSTANT RUNOFF VOTING METHOD

SECTION 18-100. DEFINITIONS.
        18-102. INSTANT  RUNOFF  VOTING  METHOD  AUTHORIZED  IN  CERTAIN
                   CASES.
        18-104. INSTANT RUNOFF VOTING METHOD; BALLOTS.
        18-106. INSTANT RUNOFF VOTING METHOD; PROCEDURES.
        18-108. VOTER EDUCATION.
        18-110. CONSTRUCTION.

  S  18-100. DEFINITIONS. 1. "INSTANT RUNOFF VOTING METHOD" SHALL MEAN A
METHOD OF CASTING AND TABULATING VOTES THAT SIMULATES THE BALLOT  COUNTS
THAT  WOULD  OCCUR  IF  ALL  VOTERS  PARTICIPATED  IN A SERIES OF RUNOFF
ELECTIONS, WHEREBY THE VOTERS RANK CANDIDATES ACCORDING TO THE ORDER  OF
THEIR CHOICE AND, IF NO CANDIDATE HAS RECEIVED A MAJORITY OF VOTES CAST,
THEN  THE CANDIDATE WITH THE FEWEST FIRST CHOICE VOTES IS ELIMINATED AND
THE REMAINING CANDIDATES ADVANCE TO ANOTHER  COUNTING  ROUND.  IN  EVERY
ROUND, EACH BALLOT IS COUNTED AS ONE VOTE FOR THE HIGHEST RANKED ADVANC-
ING CANDIDATE.
  2.  "LOCAL  GOVERNMENT"  SHALL  MEAN A COUNTY, CITY, TOWN, VILLAGE, OR
SCHOOL DISTRICT.
  S 18-102. INSTANT RUNOFF VOTING METHOD AUTHORIZED IN CERTAIN CASES. 1.
FOR ELECTIONS TO BE HELD IN THE YEARS TWO THOUSAND THIRTEEN,  TWO  THOU-
SAND  FOURTEEN,  AND  TWO THOUSAND FIFTEEN, LOCAL GOVERNMENTS ARE HEREBY
AUTHORIZED TO CONDUCT ELECTIONS  UTILIZING  THE  INSTANT  RUNOFF  VOTING
METHOD FOR THE FOLLOWING ELECTIONS: (A) MEMBER OF THE BOARD OF EDUCATION
IN THE CASE OF A SCHOOL DISTRICT, (B) COUNTY EXECUTIVE AND COUNTY LEGIS-
LATOR IN THE CASE OF A COUNTY, (C) MAYOR, MEMBER OF CITY COUNCIL, PUBLIC
ADVOCATE, COMPTROLLER, AND BOROUGH PRESIDENT, IN THE CASE OF A CITY, (D)
TOWN  SUPERVISOR  AND  MEMBER OF TOWN COUNCIL IN THE CASE OF A TOWN, AND
(E) MAYOR AND VILLAGE TRUSTEE IN THE CASE  OF  A  VILLAGE.    "ELECTION"
SHALL INCLUDE THE GENERAL ELECTION AND PRIMARY, WHERE APPLICABLE.
  2.  IN ORDER TO IMPLEMENT THE INSTANT RUNOFF VOTING METHOD AS PROVIDED
IN SUBDIVISION ONE OF THIS SECTION, THE  GOVERNING  BODY  OF  THE  LOCAL
GOVERNMENT  SHALL  ADOPT  A  RESOLUTION  IMPLEMENTING THE INSTANT RUNOFF
METHOD AS AUTHORIZED BY THIS TITLE. SUCH RESOLUTION SHALL BE SUBJECT  TO
A PERMISSIVE REFERENDUM.

S. 3250                             3

  3.  SUCH  RESOLUTION  SHALL  BE  ADOPTED BY THE GOVERNING BOARD OF THE
LOCAL GOVERNMENT AT LEAST ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY DAYS  BEFORE  THE  ELECTION
FOR WHICH INSTANT RUNOFF VOTING WILL BE UTILIZED.
  4.  THE  PROVISIONS  OF  SECTIONS 18-104, 18-106, 18-108 AND 18-110 OF
THIS ARTICLE SHALL APPLY ONLY WHEN THREE OR MORE  CANDIDATES  HAVE  BEEN
NOMINATED  OR  DESIGNATED FOR AN OFFICE ENUMERATED IN SUBDIVISION ONE OF
THIS SECTION, AND THE GOVERNING BODY OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT HAS ENACTED
A RESOLUTION IMPLEMENTING THE INSTANT RUNOFF VOTING METHOD.
  S 18-104. INSTANT  RUNOFF  VOTING  METHOD;  BALLOTS.  1.  FOR  OFFICES
SUBJECT  TO THE INSTANT RUNOFF VOTING METHOD, THE BALLOT SHALL BE SIMPLE
AND EASY TO UNDERSTAND AND ALLOW A  VOTER  TO  RANK  CANDIDATES  FOR  AN
OFFICE IN ORDER OF CHOICE. A VOTER MAY INCLUDE NO MORE THAN ONE WRITE-IN
CANDIDATE  AMONG  THAT VOTER'S RANKED CHOICES FOR EACH OFFICE. IF FEASI-
BLE, BALLOTS SHALL BE DESIGNED SO THAT A VOTER  MAY  MARK  THAT  VOTER'S
FIRST  CHOICES IN THE SAME MANNER AS THAT FOR OFFICES NOT ELECTED BY THE
INSTANT RUNOFF VOTING METHOD.
  2. INSTRUCTIONS ON THE  BALLOT  SHALL  CONFORM  SUBSTANTIALLY  TO  THE
FOLLOWING  SPECIFICATIONS,  ALTHOUGH  SUBJECT  TO MODIFICATION, BASED ON
BALLOT DESIGN AND VOTING MACHINE:
  "VOTE FOR CANDIDATES BY INDICATING  YOUR  FIRST-CHOICE  CANDIDATES  IN
ORDER  OF  PREFERENCE.  INDICATE YOUR FIRST CHOICE BY MARKING THE NUMBER
"1" BESIDE A CANDIDATE'S NAME, YOUR SECOND CHOICE BY MARKING THE  NUMBER
"2"  BESIDE  A CANDIDATE'S NAME, YOUR THIRD CHOICE BY MARKING THE NUMBER
"3" BESIDE A CANDIDATE'S NAME AND SO ON, FOR  AS  MANY  CHOICES  AS  YOU
WISH.  YOU MAY CHOOSE TO RANK ONLY ONE CANDIDATE, BUT RANKING ADDITIONAL
CANDIDATES WILL NOT HURT THE CHANCES OF YOUR FIRST-CHOICE CANDIDATE.  DO
NOT  MARK  THE  SAME  NUMBER BESIDE MORE THAN ONE CANDIDATE. DO NOT SKIP
NUMBERS."
  3. A SAMPLE BALLOT FOR AN OFFICE SUBJECT TO THE INSTANT RUNOFF  VOTING
METHOD  SHALL  ILLUSTRATE  THE  VOTING  PROCEDURE FOR THE INSTANT RUNOFF
VOTING METHOD. SUCH A SAMPLE BALLOT SHALL BE INCLUDED WITH EACH ABSENTEE
BALLOT.
  4. THE APPROPRIATE ELECTION OFFICIAL FOR A LOCAL GOVERNMENT WHERE  THE
INSTANT  RUNOFF  VOTING METHOD HAS BEEN AUTHORIZED BY SAID LOCAL GOVERN-
MENT SHALL INSURE THAT THE  NECESSARY  VOTING  SYSTEM,  VOTE  TABULATION
SYSTEM,  OR  OTHER  SIMILAR  OR  RELATED EQUIPMENT SHALL BE AVAILABLE TO
ACCOMMODATE THE INSTANT RUNOFF VOTING METHOD.
  S 18-106. INSTANT RUNOFF  VOTING  METHOD;  PROCEDURES.  THE  FOLLOWING
PROCEDURES  SHALL  APPLY IN DETERMINING THE WINNER IN AN ELECTION FOR AN
OFFICE SUBJECT TO THE INSTANT RUNOFF VOTING METHOD:
  1. THE FIRST CHOICE MARKED ON EACH BALLOT SHALL BE  COUNTED  INITIALLY
BY ELECTION OFFICIALS. IF ONE CANDIDATE RECEIVES A MAJORITY OF THE VOTES
CAST, EXCLUDING BLANK AND VOID BALLOTS, THAT CANDIDATE SHALL BE DECLARED
ELECTED.
  2.  IF  NO CANDIDATE RECEIVES A MAJORITY OF FIRST-CHOICE VOTES CAST AT
THE END OF THE INITIAL COUNT, THE CANDIDATE RECEIVING THE FEWEST  FIRST-
CHOICE  VOTES  SHALL  BE  ELIMINATED.  EACH VOTE CAST FOR THE ELIMINATED
CANDIDATE SHALL BE TRANSFERRED TO THE CANDIDATE WHO WAS THE VOTER'S NEXT
CHOICE ON THE BALLOT.
  3. CANDIDATES WITH THE FEWEST VOTES SHALL CONTINUE TO  BE  ELIMINATED,
WITH  THE VOTES FOR SUCH CANDIDATES TRANSFERRED TO THE CANDIDATE WHO WAS
EACH VOTER'S NEXT CHOICE ON THE BALLOT  UNTIL  A  CANDIDATE  RECEIVES  A
MAJORITY  OF  THE  VOTES  CAST, EXCLUDING BLANK AND VOID BALLOTS. WHEN A
CANDIDATE RECEIVES A MAJORITY OF THE VOTES CAST, THAT CANDIDATE SHALL BE
DECLARED ELECTED.

S. 3250                             4

  4. IF A BALLOT HAS NO MORE AVAILABLE CHOICES RANKED ON IT, THAT BALLOT
SHALL BE DECLARED EXHAUSTED. WHERE A BALLOT SKIPS ONE OR  MORE  NUMBERS,
THAT  BALLOT SHALL BE DECLARED EXHAUSTED WHEN THE SKIPPING OF NUMBERS IS
REACHED. A BALLOT WITH THE SAME NUMBER FOR TWO OR MORE CANDIDATES  SHALL
BE DECLARED EXHAUSTED WHEN THESE DOUBLE NUMBERS ARE REACHED.
  5.  IN  THE  CASE OF A TIE BETWEEN CANDIDATES FOR LAST PLACE, AND THUS
ELIMINATION, OCCURRING AT ANY STAGE IN THE TABULATION, THE TIE SHALL  BE
RESOLVED  SO AS TO ELIMINATE THE CANDIDATE WHO RECEIVED THE LEAST NUMBER
OF VOTES AT THE PREVIOUS STAGE OF TABULATION. IN THE CASE OF  A  TIE  TO
WHICH A PREVIOUS STAGE DOES NOT APPLY, OR SUCH PREVIOUS STAGE WAS ALSO A
TIE,  THE  TIE  SHALL  BE  RESOLVED BY DRAWING LOTS. HOWEVER, IF THE TIE
OCCURS WHEN THERE ARE ONLY TWO CANDIDATES REMAINING, THE  TIE  SHALL  BE
RESOLVED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROVISIONS OF THIS CHAPTER.
  S  18-108.  VOTER  EDUCATION.  WHERE  A  LOCAL GOVERNMENT SHALL PASS A
RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING THE INSTANT RUNOFF VOTING METHOD,  THE  GOVERNING
BODY  SHALL  CONDUCT  A  VOTER  EDUCATION CAMPAIGN ON THE INSTANT RUNOFF
VOTING SYSTEM TO FAMILIARIZE VOTERS WITH THE BALLOT  DESIGN,  METHOD  OF
VOTING,  AND  ADVANTAGES  OF  DETERMINING  A MAJORITY WINNER IN A SINGLE
ELECTION. THE GOVERNING BODY SHALL USE PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENTS,  AS
WELL AS SEEK OTHER MEDIA COOPERATION TO THE MAXIMUM EXTENT PRACTICABLE.
  S  18-110.  CONSTRUCTION.  ALL  ELECTIONS  HELD  BY THE INSTANT RUNOFF
VOTING METHOD PURSUANT TO THIS TITLE SHALL BE SUBJECT TO ALL  THE  OTHER
PROVISIONS  OF  THIS  CHAPTER  AND ALL OTHER APPLICABLE LAWS RELATING TO
ELECTIONS, SO FAR AS IS APPLICABLE AND NOT INCONSISTENT WITH THIS  CHAP-
TER.
  S  3.  Severability.  If  any provision of this act or the application
thereof shall for any reason be  adjudged  by  any  court  of  competent
jurisdiction  to  be invalid, such judgment shall not affect, impair, or
invalidate the remainder of this act, but shall be confined in its oper-
ation to the provision thereof directly involved in the  controversy  in
which such judgment shall have been rendered.
  S 4. This act shall take effect immediately, and shall expire December
31,  2018 when upon such date the provisions of this act shall be deemed
repealed.

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