senate Bill S3274

Amended

Creates a pilot program to provide for an instant runoff voting method to be used in up to ten local governments for two years and provides for repeal of 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 3274A

Summary

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 2017 and 2018; requires report to state legislature.

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Bill Details

Versions:
S3274
S3274A
Legislative Cycle:
2013-2014
Current Committee:
Senate Elections
Law Section:
Elections
Versions Introduced in Previous Legislative Cycles:
2011-2012: S422A
2009-2010: S3589A
2007-2008: S4464

Sponsor Memo

BILL NUMBER:S3274

TITLE OF BILL: 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 expiration thereof

PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL: This act would permit the use of the
instant runoff voting method on a trial basis in certain local
elections in years 2012 and 2013. 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.

SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS:

Section 1. Legislative Findings

Section 2. Definitions

Section 3. Pilot Program

Section 4. Ballot features and designs

Section 5. Procedures for determining a winner using IRV method

Section 6. Voter Education

Section 7. Construal

Section 8. Severability

Section 9. Effective Date

JUSTIFICATION: 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. When 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" candidate. The
instant run-off voting method provides for the majority election for
elective offices. Instant runoff voting gives voters the option to
rank candidates in order of preference. If no candidate receives 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 instant runoff voting method
frees voters to mark their ballots for the candidate they truly prefer
without fear that their choice will help elect their least preferred
candidate.

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None.

EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect immediately, and shall
remain in full force and effect until December 31, 2016 when upon such
date the provisions of this act shall expire and be deemed repealed.


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

                                  3274

                       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
  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 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.
                                                           LBD00881-01-3

S. 3274                             2

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-
ing candidate.
  2. "Local government" shall mean a county,  city,  town,  village,  or
school district.
  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
1, 2018.
  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

S. 3274                             3

"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  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
absentee ballot.
  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
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 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.

S. 3274                             4

  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.

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