senate Bill S3250A

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:
A2109A
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:S3250A

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 2014, 2015 and 2016. 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 11 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
conducting 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 or 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 are already required, it will eliminate the need for a
second runoff election, with its increased costs and lower voter turn-
out.

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: Negligible.

LOCAL FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: Negligible.

EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect immediately, and shall expire
December 31, 2019 when upon such acre the provisions c this act shall be
deemed repealed.

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

                                 3250--A

                       2013-2014 Regular Sessions

                            I N  S E N A T E

                            January 31, 2013
                               ___________

Introduced  by Sens. KRUEGER, HOYLMAN -- read twice and ordered printed,
  and when printed to be committed to  the  Committee  on  Elections  --
  recommitted  to  the  Committee on Elections in accordance with Senate
  Rule  6,  sec.  8  --  committee  discharged,  bill  amended,  ordered
  reprinted as amended and recommitted to said committee

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

 EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                      [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                           LBD03242-02-4

S. 3250--A                          2

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
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  2014,  2015 and 2016. 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 FOURTEEN, TWO THOU-
SAND FIFTEEN, AND TWO THOUSAND SIXTEEN,  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

S. 3250--A                          3

GOVERNMENT SHALL ADOPT A  RESOLUTION  IMPLEMENTING  THE  INSTANT  RUNOFF
METHOD  AS  AUTHORIZED BY THIS ARTICLE. SUCH RESOLUTION SHALL BE SUBJECT
TO A PERMISSIVE REFERENDUM.
  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

S. 3250--A                          4

CANDIDATE RECEIVES A MAJORITY OF THE VOTES CAST, THAT CANDIDATE SHALL BE
DECLARED ELECTED.
  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 ARTICLE 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,  2019 when upon such date the provisions of this act shall be deemed
repealed.

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