S T A T E O F N E W Y O R K
2019-2020 Regular Sessions
I N S E N A T E
January 25, 2019
Introduced by Sen. KRUEGER -- 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 a ranked choice 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 ranked choice voting method provides for the majority election for
elective offices. Ranked choice 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 ranked choice voting meth-
od. 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 ranked choice voting method will
(1) promote higher voter turnout, and (2) encourage positive campaign-
EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
[ ] is old law to be omitted.
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ing, 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
The ranked choice 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 ranked choice
voting method on a trial basis in certain local elections in years 2022
and 2023. 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.
§ 2. Definitions. 1. "Ranked choice voting method" shall mean a meth-
od 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 advancing
2. "Local government" shall mean a county, city, town, village, or
§ 3. Pilot program. 1. The state board of elections shall select local
governments in which to conduct a pilot program during the 2022 and 2023
elections for local office using ranked choice voting. The state board
shall select up to ten local governments in 2022 and up to ten local
governments in 2023.
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.
§ 4. Ranked choice voting method; ballots. 1. For elections subject
to the ranked choice 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 ranked choice 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
"2" beside a candidate's name, your third choice by marking the number
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"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 ranked choice voting
method must illustrate the voting procedure for the ranked choice 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 ranked choice voting
method where the ranked choice voting method is required by this act.
§ 5. Ranked choice voting method; procedures. The following procedures
shall apply in determining the winner in an election subject to the
ranked choice 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 act.
§ 6. Voter education. Where an election is subject to the ranked
choice voting method, the appropriate board of elections shall conduct a
voter education campaign on the ranked choice voting system to familiar-
ize 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.
§ 7. Construal. All elections held by the ranked choice voting method
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.
§ 8. Severability. If any provision of this act or the application
thereof shall for any reason be adjudged by any court of competent
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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.
§ 9. This act shall take effect immediately, and shall remain in full
force and effect until December 31, 2024 when upon such date the
provisions of this act shall expire and be deemed repealed. Effective
immediately the addition, amendment and/or repeal of any rule or regu-
lation necessary for the implementation of this act on its effective
date are authorized to be made on or before such date.