S T A T E O F N E W Y O R K
2013-2014 Regular Sessions
I N S E N A T E
January 31, 2013
Introduced by Sens. KRUEGER, HASSELL-THOMPSON, PERKINS, SQUADRON -- 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 an instant runoff voting method
of elections and providing for the repeal of such provisions upon
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 who 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 who 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 ensures that the elected candidate
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.
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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 in years 2016
and 2017. This pilot program would permit the state legislature to eval-
uate the broader application of the instant runoff voting method to
elections in New York state.
S 2. 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-
2. "Local government" shall mean a county, city, town, village, or
S 3. Pilot program. 1. The state board of elections shall select local
governments in which to conduct a pilot program during the 2016 and 2017
elections for local office using instant runoff voting. The state board
shall select up to ten local governments in 2016 and up to ten local
governments in 2017.
2. In selecting local governments the state board shall seek diversity
of population size, regional location, and demographic composition. The
pilot program shall require the approval of the county board of
elections where said county board conducts the election for the local
government. Said pilot program shall also require the approval of the
local government that has been selected for the pilot program.
3. The state board shall monitor the pilot program and issue a report
with its findings and recommendations to the state legislature by April
4. The state board shall implement the necessary regulations in order
to implement this act within ninety days after it shall have become law.
S 4. Instant runoff voting method; ballots. 1. For elections subject
to the instant runoff voting method, the ballot must be simple and easy
to understand and allow a voter to rank candidates 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 feasible, ballots must 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 must 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
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"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
3. A sample ballot for an election subject to the instant runoff
voting method must illustrate the voting procedure for the instant
runoff voting method. Such a sample ballot must be included with each
4. The appropriate board of elections shall ensure that the necessary
voting system, vote tabulation system, or other similar or related
equipment shall be available to accommodate the instant runoff voting
method where the instant runoff voting method is required by this act.
S 5. Instant runoff voting method; procedures. The following proce-
dures shall apply in determining the winner in an election subject to
the instant runoff voting method:
1. The first choice marked on each ballot must 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
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 the winner.
4. If a ballot has no more available choices ranked on it, that ballot
must be declared exhausted. Where a ballot skips one or more numbers,
the ballot must be declared exhausted when the skipping of numbers is
reached. A ballot with the same number for two or more candidates must
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 6. Voter education. Where an election is subject to the instant
runoff voting method, the appropriate board of elections shall conduct a
voter education campaign on the instant runoff voting system to famil-
iarize voters with the ballot design, method of voting, and advantages
of determining a majority winner in a single election. The board of
elections shall use public service announcements, as well as seek other
media cooperation to the maximum extent practicable.
S 7. Construal. All elections held by the instant runoff voting meth-
od pursuant to this act shall be subject to all the other provisions of
the election law and all other applicable laws relating to elections, so
far as is applicable and not inconsistent with this act.
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S 8. 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 9. This act shall take effect immediately, and shall remain in full
force and effect until December 31, 2018 when upon such date the
provisions of this act shall expire and be deemed repealed.