S05605 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 2020 and 2021; requires report to state legislature.
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S05605 Actions:

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S05605 Committee Votes:

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S05605 Floor Votes:

There are no votes for this bill in this legislative session.
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S05605 Text:

                STATE OF NEW YORK
                               2017-2018 Regular Sessions
                    IN SENATE
                                     April 20, 2017
        Introduced by Sens. KRUEGER, 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:
     1    Section  1.  Legislative  findings. The current system of voting often
     2  results in the election of a candidate who 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
     8  voting for a leading candidate that they perceive as the lesser  of  two
     9  evils.  The result of the current system in multi-candidate races can be
    10  the election of candidates who 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
    21  they  truly  prefer without fear that their choice will help elect their
    22  least preferred candidate. Second, it ensures that the elected candidate
    23  has true majority support. In addition, the instant runoff voting method
    24  will (1) promote  higher  voter  turnout,  and  (2)  encourage  positive
         EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                              [ ] is old law to be omitted.

        S. 5605                             2
     1  campaigning,  since  candidates will seek second-choice and third-choice
     2  votes from voters and will therefore be  less  likely  to  attack  other
     3  candidates  and  alienate  voters that support other candidates as their
     4  first  choice. In situations where runoffs are already required, it will
     5  eliminate the need for a second  runoff  election,  with  its  increased
     6  costs and lower voter turnout.
     7    The  instant  runoff  voting method has been the subject of increasing
     8  interest across the nation. It has already been adopted by local  refer-
     9  enda  in  California,  Vermont, and Massachusetts. It is under consider-
    10  ation in many other states.
    11    It is the purpose of this act to permit the use of the instant  runoff
    12  voting  method on a trial basis in certain local elections in years 2020
    13  and 2021. This pilot program would permit the state legislature to eval-
    14  uate the broader application of the  instant  runoff  voting  method  to
    15  elections in New York state.
    16    §  2.    Definitions.  1.  "Instant runoff voting method" shall mean a
    17  method of casting and tabulating votes that simulates the ballot  counts
    18  that  would  occur  if  all  voters  participated  in a series of runoff
    19  elections, whereby the voters rank candidates according to the order  of
    20  their choice and, if no candidate has received a majority of votes cast,
    21  then  the candidate with the fewest first choice votes is eliminated and
    22  the remaining candidates advance to another  counting  round.  In  every
    23  round, each ballot is counted as one vote for the highest ranked advanc-
    24  ing candidate.
    25    2.  "Local  government"  shall  mean a county, city, town, village, or
    26  school district.
    27    § 3. Pilot program. 1. The state board of elections shall select local
    28  governments in which to conduct a pilot program during the 2020 and 2021
    29  elections for local office using instant runoff voting. The state  board
    30  shall  select  up  to  ten local governments in 2020 and up to ten local
    31  governments in 2021.
    32    2. In selecting local governments the state board shall seek diversity
    33  of population size, regional location, and demographic composition.  The
    34  pilot  program  shall  require  the  approval  of  the  county  board of
    35  elections where said county board conducts the election  for  the  local
    36  government.  Said  pilot  program shall also require the approval of the
    37  local government that has been selected for the pilot program.
    38    3. The state board shall monitor the pilot program and issue a  report
    39  with  its findings and recommendations to the state legislature by April
    40  1, 2022.
    41    4. The state board shall implement the necessary regulations in  order
    42  to implement this act within ninety days after it shall have become law.
    43    §  4.  Instant runoff voting method; ballots. 1. For elections subject
    44  to the instant runoff voting method, the ballot must be simple and  easy
    45  to understand and allow a voter to rank candidates in order of choice. A
    46  voter may include no more than one write-in candidate among that voter's
    47  ranked choices for each office. If feasible, ballots must be designed so
    48  that  a  voter may mark that voter's first choices in the same manner as
    49  that for offices not elected by the instant runoff voting method.
    50    2. Instructions on  the  ballot  must  conform  substantially  to  the
    51  following  specifications,  although  subject  to modification, based on
    52  ballot design and voting machine:
    53    "Vote for candidates by indicating  your  first-choice  candidates  in
    54  order  of  preference.  Indicate your first choice by marking the number
    55  "1" beside a candidate's name, your second choice by marking the  number
    56  "2"  beside  a candidate's name, your third choice by marking the number

        S. 5605                             3
     1  "3" beside a candidate's name and so on, for  as  many  choices  as  you
     2  wish.  You may choose to rank only one candidate, but ranking additional
     3  candidates  will not hurt the chances of your first-choice candidate. Do
     4  not  mark  the  same  number beside more than one candidate. Do not skip
     5  numbers."
     6    3. A sample ballot for an  election  subject  to  the  instant  runoff
     7  voting  method  must  illustrate  the  voting  procedure for the instant
     8  runoff voting method. Such a sample ballot must be  included  with  each
     9  absentee ballot.
    10    4.  The appropriate board of elections shall ensure that the necessary
    11  voting system, vote tabulation  system,  or  other  similar  or  related
    12  equipment  shall  be  available to accommodate the instant runoff voting
    13  method where the instant runoff voting method is required by this act.
    14    § 5. Instant runoff voting method; procedures.  The  following  proce-
    15  dures  shall  apply  in determining the winner in an election subject to
    16  the instant runoff voting method:
    17    1. The first choice marked on each ballot must be counted initially by
    18  election officials. If one candidate receives a majority  of  the  votes
    19  cast, excluding blank and void ballots, that candidate shall be declared
    20  elected.
    21    2.  If  no candidate receives a majority of first-choice votes cast at
    22  the end of the initial count, the candidate receiving the fewest  first-
    23  choice  votes  shall  be  eliminated.  Each vote cast for the eliminated
    24  candidate shall be transferred to the candidate who was the voter's next
    25  choice on the ballot.
    26    3. Candidates with the fewest votes shall continue to  be  eliminated,
    27  with  the votes for such candidates transferred to the candidate who was
    28  each voter's next choice on the ballot  until  a  candidate  receives  a
    29  majority  of  the  votes  cast, excluding blank and void ballots. When a
    30  candidate receives a majority of the votes cast, that candidate shall be
    31  declared the winner.
    32    4. If a ballot has no more available choices ranked on it, that ballot
    33  must be declared exhausted. Where a ballot skips one  or  more  numbers,
    34  the  ballot  must  be declared exhausted when the skipping of numbers is
    35  reached. A ballot with the same number for two or more  candidates  must
    36  be declared exhausted when these double numbers are reached.
    37    5.  In  the  case of a tie between candidates for last place, and thus
    38  elimination, occurring at any stage in the tabulation, the tie shall  be
    39  resolved  so as to eliminate the candidate who received the least number
    40  of votes at the previous stage of tabulation. In the case of  a  tie  to
    41  which a previous stage does not apply, or such previous stage was also a
    42  tie,  the  tie  shall  be  resolved by drawing lots. However, if the tie
    43  occurs when there are only two candidates remaining, the  tie  shall  be
    44  resolved in accordance with the provisions of this act.
    45    §  6.  Voter  education.  Where  an election is subject to the instant
    46  runoff voting method, the appropriate board of elections shall conduct a
    47  voter education campaign on the instant runoff voting system  to  famil-
    48  iarize  voters  with the ballot design, method of voting, and advantages
    49  of determining a majority winner in a  single  election.  The  board  of
    50  elections  shall use public service announcements, as well as seek other
    51  media cooperation to the maximum extent practicable.
    52    § 7.  Construal. All elections held by the instant runoff voting meth-
    53  od pursuant to this act shall be subject to all the other provisions  of
    54  the election law and all other applicable laws relating to elections, so
    55  far as is applicable and not inconsistent with this act.

        S. 5605                             4
     1    §  8.    Severability. If any provision of this act or the application
     2  thereof shall for any reason be  adjudged  by  any  court  of  competent
     3  jurisdiction  to  be invalid, such judgment shall not affect, impair, or
     4  invalidate the remainder of this act, but shall be confined in its oper-
     5  ation  to  the provision thereof directly involved in the controversy in
     6  which such judgment shall have been rendered.
     7    § 9. This act shall take effect immediately, and shall remain in  full
     8  force  and  effect  until  December  31,  2022  when  upon such date the
     9  provisions of this act shall expire and be deemed repealed.
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