STATE OF NEW YORK
2015-2016 Regular Sessions
March 4, 2015
Introduced by M. of A. KAVANAGH, LUPARDO, THIELE, LIFTON -- Multi-Spon-
sored by -- M. of A. RIVERA -- read once and referred to the Commit-
tee on Election Law -- recommitted to the Committee on Election Law in
accordance with Assembly Rule 3, sec. 2 -- committee discharged, bill
amended, ordered reprinted as amended and recommitted to said commit-
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:
1 Section 1. Legislative findings. The current system of voting often
2 results in the election of a candidate that does not have the majority
3 support of the electorate when there are three or more candidates
4 running for an elective office. Further, where there are three or more
5 candidates for an elective office, voters often will not vote for their
6 preferred candidate to avoid "wasting" their vote on a "spoiler" candi-
7 date. Rather, they will vote against a candidate they dislike, by voting
8 for a leading candidate that they perceive as the lesser of two evils.
9 The result of the current system in multi-candidate races can be the
10 election of candidates that lack majority support.
11 The instant runoff voting method provides for the majority election
12 for elective offices. Instant runoff voting gives voters the option to
13 rank candidates according to the order of their choice. If no candidate
14 obtains a majority of first-choice votes, then the candidate receiving
15 the fewest first-choice votes is eliminated. Each vote cast for the
16 eliminated candidate shall be transferred to the candidate who was the
17 voter's next choice on the ballot. The process is continued until a
18 candidate receives a majority of votes.
19 There are several potential benefits to the instant runoff voting
20 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.
A. 5744--A 2
1 they truly prefer without fear that their choice will help elect their
2 least preferred candidate. Second, it insures that the elected candidate
3 has true majority support. In addition, the instant runoff voting method
4 will (1) promote higher voter turnout, and (2) encourage positive
5 campaigning, since candidates will seek second-choice and third-choice
6 votes from voters and will therefore be less likely to attack other
7 candidates and alienate voters that support other candidates as their
8 first choice. In situations where runoffs are already required, it will
9 eliminate the need for a second runoff election, with its increased
10 costs and lower voter turnout.
11 The instant runoff voting method has been the subject of increasing
12 interest across the nation. It has already been adopted by local refer-
13 enda in California, Vermont, and Massachusetts. It is under consider-
14 ation in many other states.
15 It is the purpose of this act to permit the use of the instant runoff
16 voting method on a trial basis in certain local elections at the option
17 of local governments in the years 2016, 2017 and 2018. This pilot
18 program would permit the state legislature to evaluate the broader
19 application of the instant runoff voting method to elections in New York
21 § 2. The election law is amended by adding a new article 18 to read as
23 ARTICLE 18
24 INSTANT RUNOFF VOTING METHOD
25 Section 18-100. Definitions.
26 18-102. Instant runoff voting method authorized in certain
28 18-104. Instant runoff voting method; ballots.
29 18-106. Instant runoff voting method; procedures.
30 18-108. Voter education.
31 18-110. Construction.
32 § 18-100. Definitions. 1. "Instant runoff voting method" shall mean a
33 method of casting and tabulating votes that simulates the ballot counts
34 that would occur if all voters participated in a series of runoff
35 elections, whereby the voters rank candidates according to the order of
36 their choice and, if no candidate has received a majority of votes cast,
37 then the candidate with the fewest first choice votes is eliminated and
38 the remaining candidates advance to another counting round. In every
39 round, each ballot is counted as one vote for the highest ranked advanc-
40 ing candidate.
41 2. "Local government" shall mean a county, city, town, village, or
42 school district.
43 § 18-102. Instant runoff voting method authorized in certain cases. 1.
44 For elections to be held in the years two thousand sixteen, two thousand
45 seventeen, and two thousand eighteen, local governments are hereby
46 authorized to conduct elections utilizing the instant runoff voting
47 method for the following elections: (a) member of the board of education
48 in the case of a school district, (b) county executive and county legis-
49 lator in the case of a county, (c) mayor, member of city council, public
50 advocate, comptroller, and borough president, in the case of a city, (d)
51 town supervisor and member of town council in the case of a town, and
52 (e) mayor and village trustee in the case of a village. "Election"
53 shall include the general election and primary, where applicable.
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1 2. In order to implement the instant runoff voting method as provided
2 in subdivision one of this section, the governing body of the local
3 government shall adopt a resolution implementing the instant runoff
4 method as authorized by this article. Such resolution shall be subject
5 to a permissive referendum.
6 3. Such resolution shall be adopted by the governing board of the
7 local government at least one hundred eighty days before the election
8 for which instant runoff voting will be utilized.
9 4. The provisions of sections 18-104, 18-106, 18-108 and 18-110 of
10 this article shall apply only when three or more candidates have been
11 nominated or designated for an office enumerated in subdivision one of
12 this section, and the governing body of the local government has enacted
13 a resolution implementing the instant runoff voting method.
14 § 18-104. Instant runoff voting method; ballots. 1. For offices
15 subject to the instant runoff voting method, the ballot shall be simple
16 and easy to understand and allow a voter to rank candidates for an
17 office in order of choice. A voter may include no more than one write-in
18 candidate among that voter's ranked choices for each office. If feasi-
19 ble, ballots shall be designed so that a voter may mark that voter's
20 first choices in the same manner as that for offices not elected by the
21 instant runoff voting method.
22 2. Instructions on the ballot shall conform substantially to the
23 following specifications, although subject to modification, based on
24 ballot design and voting machine:
25 "Vote for candidates by indicating your first-choice candidates in
26 order of preference. Indicate your first choice by marking the number
27 "1" beside a candidate's name, your second choice by marking the number
28 "2" beside a candidate's name, your third choice by marking the number
29 "3" beside a candidate's name and so on, for as many choices as you
30 wish. You may choose to rank only one candidate, but ranking additional
31 candidates will not hurt the chances of your first-choice candidate. Do
32 not mark the same number beside more than one candidate. Do not skip
34 3. A sample ballot for an office subject to the instant runoff voting
35 method shall illustrate the voting procedure for the instant runoff
36 voting method. Such a sample ballot shall be included with each absentee
38 4. The appropriate election official for a local government where the
39 instant runoff voting method has been authorized by said local govern-
40 ment shall insure that the necessary voting system, vote tabulation
41 system, or other similar or related equipment shall be available to
42 accommodate the instant runoff voting method.
43 § 18-106. Instant runoff voting method; procedures. The following
44 procedures shall apply in determining the winner in an election for an
45 office subject to the instant runoff voting method:
46 1. The first choice marked on each ballot shall be counted initially
47 by election officials. If one candidate receives a majority of the votes
48 cast, excluding blank and void ballots, that candidate shall be declared
50 2. If no candidate receives a majority of first-choice votes cast at
51 the end of the initial count, the candidate receiving the fewest first-
52 choice votes shall be eliminated. Each vote cast for the eliminated
53 candidate shall be transferred to the candidate who was the voter's next
54 choice on the ballot.
55 3. Candidates with the fewest votes shall continue to be eliminated,
56 with the votes for such candidates transferred to the candidate who was
A. 5744--A 4
1 each voter's next choice on the ballot until a candidate receives a
2 majority of the votes cast, excluding blank and void ballots. When a
3 candidate receives a majority of the votes cast, that candidate shall be
4 declared elected.
5 4. If a ballot has no more available choices ranked on it, that ballot
6 shall be declared exhausted. Where a ballot skips one or more numbers,
7 that ballot shall be declared exhausted when the skipping of numbers is
8 reached. A ballot with the same number for two or more candidates shall
9 be declared exhausted when these double numbers are reached.
10 5. In the case of a tie between candidates for last place, and thus
11 elimination, occurring at any stage in the tabulation, the tie shall be
12 resolved so as to eliminate the candidate who received the least number
13 of votes at the previous stage of tabulation. In the case of a tie to
14 which a previous stage does not apply, or such previous stage was also a
15 tie, the tie shall be resolved by drawing lots. However, if the tie
16 occurs when there are only two candidates remaining, the tie shall be
17 resolved in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.
18 § 18-108. Voter education. Where a local government shall pass a
19 resolution authorizing the instant runoff voting method, the governing
20 body shall conduct a voter education campaign on the instant runoff
21 voting system to familiarize voters with the ballot design, method of
22 voting, and advantages of determining a majority winner in a single
23 election. The governing body shall use public service announcements, as
24 well as seek other media cooperation to the maximum extent practicable.
25 § 18-110. Construction. All elections held by the instant runoff
26 voting method pursuant to this article shall be subject to all the other
27 provisions of this chapter and all other applicable laws relating to
28 elections, so far as is applicable and not inconsistent with this chap-
30 § 3. Severability. If any provision of this act or the application
31 thereof shall for any reason be adjudged by any court of competent
32 jurisdiction to be invalid, such judgment shall not affect, impair, or
33 invalidate the remainder of this act, but shall be confined in its oper-
34 ation to the provision thereof directly involved in the controversy in
35 which such judgment shall have been rendered.
36 § 4. This act shall take effect immediately, and shall expire December
37 31, 2021 when upon such date the provisions of this act shall be deemed