senate Bill S3274A

2013-2014 Legislative Session

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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Archive: Last Bill Status - In Committee


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

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Actions

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Assembly Actions - Lowercase
Senate Actions - UPPERCASE
Jan 24, 2014 print number 3274a
amend and recommit to elections
Jan 08, 2014 referred to elections
Jan 31, 2013 referred to elections

Bill Amendments

Original
A (Active)
Original
A (Active)

Co-Sponsors

S3274 - Bill Details

Current Committee:
Senate Elections
Law Section:
Elections
Versions Introduced in Previous Legislative Sessions:
2011-2012: S422A
2009-2010: S3589A

S3274 - Bill Texts

view 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.

view 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.


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                    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.

Co-Sponsors

S3274A (ACTIVE) - Bill Details

Current Committee:
Senate Elections
Law Section:
Elections
Versions Introduced in Previous Legislative Sessions:
2011-2012: S422A
2009-2010: S3589A

S3274A (ACTIVE) - Bill Texts

view 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.

view sponsor memo
BILL NUMBER:S3274A

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 or the instant runoff voting method to elections in New York
State.

SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS:

Section 1. Legislative Findings Definitions

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 candi-
date 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 run-off voting gives
voters the option to rank candidates in cider of preference. Ii 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 snail take effect immediately, and shall remain in full force
and effect until December 31, 2019 when upon such date the provisions of
this act shall empire and be deemed repealed.

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

                                 3274--A

                       2013-2014 Regular Sessions

                            I N  S E N A T E

                            January 31, 2013
                               ___________

Introduced  by  Sens. KRUEGER, HASSELL-THOMPSON, HOYLMAN, PERKINS, SQUA-
  DRON -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be commit-
  ted 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 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

 EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                      [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                           LBD00881-02-4

S. 3274--A                          2

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
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 2017
and 2018. 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 2017 and 2018
elections for local office using instant runoff voting. The state  board
shall  select  up  to  ten local governments in 2017 and up to ten local
governments in 2018.
  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, 2019.
  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:

S. 3274--A                          3

  "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  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. 3274--A                          4

  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  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,  2019  when  upon  such  date  the
provisions of this act shall expire and be deemed repealed.

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