STATE OF NEW YORK
2021-2022 Regular Sessions
January 6, 2021
Introduced by Sens. KRUEGER, HOYLMAN, MAY, SERRANO -- read twice and
ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on
AN ACT to amend the election law, in relation to establishing a ranked
choice 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 ranked choice voting method provides for the majority election for
12 elective offices. Ranked choice voting gives voters the option to rank
13 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 ranked choice voting meth-
20 od. First, voters are free to mark their ballot for the candidate they
21 truly prefer without fear that their choice will help elect their least
22 preferred candidate. Second, it insures that the elected candidate has
EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
 is old law to be omitted.
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1 true majority support. In addition, the ranked choice voting method will
2 (1) promote higher voter turnout, and (2) encourage positive campaign-
3 ing, since candidates will seek second-choice and third-choice votes
4 from voters and will therefore be less likely to attack other candidates
5 and alienate voters that support other candidates as their first choice.
6 In situations where runoffs are already required, it will eliminate the
7 need for a second runoff election, with its increased costs and lower
8 voter turnout.
9 The ranked choice voting method has been the subject of increasing
10 interest across the nation. It has already been adopted by local refer-
11 enda in California, Vermont, and Massachusetts. It is under consider-
12 ation in many other states.
13 It is the purpose of this act to permit the use of the ranked choice
14 voting method on a trial basis in certain local elections at the option
15 of local governments in the years 2024 and 2025. This pilot program
16 would permit the state legislature to evaluate the broader application
17 of the ranked choice voting method to elections in New York state.
18 § 2. The election law is amended by adding a new article 18 to read as
20 ARTICLE 18
21 RANKED CHOICE VOTING METHOD
22 Section 18-100. Definitions.
23 18-102. Ranked choice voting method authorized in certain cases.
24 18-104. Ranked choice voting method; ballots.
25 18-106. Ranked choice voting method; procedures.
26 18-108. Voter education.
27 18-110. Construction.
28 § 18-100. Definitions. 1. "Ranked choice voting method" shall mean a
29 method of casting and tabulating votes that simulates the ballot counts
30 that would occur if all voters participated in a series of runoff
31 elections, whereby the voters rank candidates according to the order of
32 their choice and, if no candidate has received a majority of votes cast,
33 then the candidate with the fewest first choice votes is eliminated and
34 the remaining candidates advance to another counting round. In every
35 round, each ballot is counted as one vote for the highest ranked advanc-
36 ing candidate.
37 2. "Local government" shall mean a county, city, town, village, or
38 school district.
39 § 18-102. Ranked choice voting method authorized in certain cases. 1.
40 For elections to be held in the years two thousand twenty-four and two
41 thousand twenty-five, local governments are hereby authorized to conduct
42 elections utilizing the ranked choice voting method for the following
43 elections: (a) member of the board of education in the case of a school
44 district, (b) county executive and county legislator in the case of a
45 county, (c) mayor, member of city council, public advocate, comptroller,
46 and borough president, in the case of a city, (d) town supervisor and
47 member of town council in the case of a town, and (e) mayor and village
48 trustee in the case of a village. "Election" shall include the general
49 election and primary, where applicable.
50 2. In order to implement the ranked choice voting method as provided
51 in subdivision one of this section, the governing body of the local
52 government shall adopt a resolution implementing the ranked choice meth-
53 od as authorized by this article. Such resolution shall be subject to a
54 permissive referendum.
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1 3. Such resolution shall be adopted by the governing board of the
2 local government at least one hundred eighty days before the election
3 for which ranked choice voting will be utilized.
4 4. The provisions of sections 18-104, 18-106, 18-108 and 18-110 of
5 this article shall apply only when three or more candidates have been
6 nominated or designated for an office enumerated in subdivision one of
7 this section, and the governing body of the local government has enacted
8 a resolution implementing the ranked choice voting method.
9 § 18-104. Ranked choice voting method; ballots. 1. For offices subject
10 to the ranked choice voting method, the ballot shall be simple and easy
11 to understand and allow a voter to rank candidates for an office in
12 order of choice. A voter may include no more than one write-in candidate
13 among that voter's ranked choices for each office. If feasible, ballots
14 shall be designed so that a voter may mark that voter's first choices in
15 the same manner as that for offices not elected by the ranked choice
16 voting method.
17 2. Instructions on the ballot shall conform substantially to the
18 following specifications, although subject to modification, based on
19 ballot design and voting machine:
20 "Vote for candidates by indicating your first-choice candidates in
21 order of preference. Indicate your first choice by marking the number
22 "1" beside a candidate's name, your second choice by marking the number
23 "2" beside a candidate's name, your third choice by marking the number
24 "3" beside a candidate's name and so on, for as many choices as you
25 wish. You may choose to rank only one candidate, but ranking additional
26 candidates will not hurt the chances of your first-choice candidate. Do
27 not mark the same number beside more than one candidate. Do not skip
29 3. A sample ballot for an office subject to the ranked choice voting
30 method shall illustrate the voting procedure for the ranked choice
31 voting method. Such a sample ballot shall be included with each absentee
33 4. The appropriate election official for a local government where the
34 ranked choice voting method has been authorized by said local government
35 shall insure that the necessary voting system, vote tabulation system,
36 or other similar or related equipment shall be available to accommodate
37 the ranked choice voting method.
38 § 18-106. Ranked choice voting method; procedures. The following
39 procedures shall apply in determining the winner in an election for an
40 office subject to the ranked choice voting method:
41 1. The first choice marked on each ballot shall be counted initially
42 by election officials. If one candidate receives a majority of the votes
43 cast, excluding blank and void ballots, that candidate shall be declared
45 2. If no candidate receives a majority of first-choice votes cast at
46 the end of the initial count, the candidate receiving the fewest first-
47 choice votes shall be eliminated. Each vote cast for the eliminated
48 candidate shall be transferred to the candidate who was the voter's next
49 choice on the ballot.
50 3. Candidates with the fewest votes shall continue to be eliminated,
51 with the votes for such candidates transferred to the candidate who was
52 each voter's next choice on the ballot until a candidate receives a
53 majority of the votes cast, excluding blank and void ballots. When a
54 candidate receives a majority of the votes cast, that candidate shall be
55 declared elected.
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1 4. If a ballot has no more available choices ranked on it, that ballot
2 shall be declared exhausted. Where a ballot skips one or more numbers,
3 that ballot shall be declared exhausted when the skipping of numbers is
4 reached. A ballot with the same number for two or more candidates shall
5 be declared exhausted when these double numbers are reached.
6 5. In the case of a tie between candidates for last place, and thus
7 elimination, occurring at any stage in the tabulation, the tie shall be
8 resolved so as to eliminate the candidate who received the least number
9 of votes at the previous stage of tabulation. In the case of a tie to
10 which a previous stage does not apply, or such previous stage was also a
11 tie, the tie shall be resolved by drawing lots. However, if the tie
12 occurs when there are only two candidates remaining, the tie shall be
13 resolved in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.
14 § 18-108. Voter education. Where a local government shall pass a
15 resolution authorizing the ranked choice voting method, the governing
16 body shall conduct a voter education campaign on the ranked choice
17 voting system to familiarize voters with the ballot design, method of
18 voting, and advantages of determining a majority winner in a single
19 election. The governing body shall use public service announcements, as
20 well as seek other media cooperation to the maximum extent practicable.
21 § 18-110. Construction. All elections held by the ranked choice voting
22 method pursuant to this article shall be subject to all the other
23 provisions of this chapter and all other applicable laws relating to
24 elections, so far as is applicable and not inconsistent with this chap-
26 § 3. Severability. If any provision of this act or the application
27 thereof shall for any reason be adjudged by any court of competent
28 jurisdiction to be invalid, such judgment shall not affect, impair, or
29 invalidate the remainder of this act, but shall be confined in its oper-
30 ation to the provision thereof directly involved in the controversy in
31 which such judgment shall have been rendered.
32 § 4. This act shall take effect immediately, and shall expire December
33 31, 2026 when upon such date the provisions of this act shall be deemed
34 repealed. Effective immediately the addition, amendment and/or repeal
35 of any rule or regulation necessary for the implementation of this act
36 on its effective date are authorized to be made and completed on or
37 before such date.