STATE OF NEW YORK
2017-2018 Regular Sessions
April 20, 2017
Introduced by Sens. KRUEGER, HOYLMAN, 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 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
21 they truly prefer without fear that their choice will help elect their
22 least preferred candidate. Second, it insures that the elected candidate
23 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.
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1 will (1) promote higher voter turnout, and (2) encourage positive
2 campaigning, since candidates will seek second-choice and third-choice
3 votes from voters and will therefore be less likely to attack other
4 candidates and alienate voters that support other candidates as their
5 first choice. In situations where runoffs are already required, it will
6 eliminate the need for a second runoff election, with its increased
7 costs and lower voter turnout.
8 The instant runoff voting method has been the subject of increasing
9 interest across the nation. It has already been adopted by local refer-
10 enda in California, Vermont, and Massachusetts. It is under consider-
11 ation in many other states.
12 It is the purpose of this act to permit the use of the instant runoff
13 voting method on a trial basis in certain local elections at the option
14 of local governments in the years 2017, 2018 and 2019. This pilot
15 program would permit the state legislature to evaluate the broader
16 application of the instant runoff voting method to elections in New York
18 § 2. The election law is amended by adding a new article 18 to read as
20 ARTICLE 18
21 INSTANT RUNOFF VOTING METHOD
22 Section 18-100. Definitions.
23 18-102. Instant runoff voting method authorized in certain
25 18-104. Instant runoff voting method; ballots.
26 18-106. Instant runoff voting method; procedures.
27 18-108. Voter education.
28 18-110. Construction.
29 § 18-100. Definitions. 1. "Instant runoff voting method" shall mean a
30 method of casting and tabulating votes that simulates the ballot counts
31 that would occur if all voters participated in a series of runoff
32 elections, whereby the voters rank candidates according to the order of
33 their choice and, if no candidate has received a majority of votes cast,
34 then the candidate with the fewest first choice votes is eliminated and
35 the remaining candidates advance to another counting round. In every
36 round, each ballot is counted as one vote for the highest ranked advanc-
37 ing candidate.
38 2. "Local government" shall mean a county, city, town, village, or
39 school district.
40 § 18-102. Instant runoff voting method authorized in certain cases. 1.
41 For elections to be held in the years two thousand seventeen, two thou-
42 sand eighteen, and two thousand nineteen, local governments are hereby
43 authorized to conduct elections utilizing the instant runoff voting
44 method for the following elections: (a) member of the board of education
45 in the case of a school district, (b) county executive and county legis-
46 lator in the case of a county, (c) mayor, member of city council, public
47 advocate, comptroller, and borough president, in the case of a city, (d)
48 town supervisor and member of town council in the case of a town, and
49 (e) mayor and village trustee in the case of a village. "Election"
50 shall include the general election and primary, where applicable.
51 2. In order to implement the instant runoff voting method as provided
52 in subdivision one of this section, the governing body of the local
53 government shall adopt a resolution implementing the instant runoff
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1 method as authorized by this article. Such resolution shall be subject
2 to a permissive referendum.
3 3. Such resolution shall be adopted by the governing board of the
4 local government at least one hundred eighty days before the election
5 for which instant runoff voting will be utilized.
6 4. The provisions of sections 18-104, 18-106, 18-108 and 18-110 of
7 this article shall apply only when three or more candidates have been
8 nominated or designated for an office enumerated in subdivision one of
9 this section, and the governing body of the local government has enacted
10 a resolution implementing the instant runoff voting method.
11 § 18-104. Instant runoff voting method; ballots. 1. For offices
12 subject to the instant runoff voting method, the ballot shall be simple
13 and easy to understand and allow a voter to rank candidates for an
14 office in order of choice. A voter may include no more than one write-in
15 candidate among that voter's ranked choices for each office. If feasi-
16 ble, ballots shall be designed so that a voter may mark that voter's
17 first choices in the same manner as that for offices not elected by the
18 instant runoff voting method.
19 2. Instructions on the ballot shall conform substantially to the
20 following specifications, although subject to modification, based on
21 ballot design and voting machine:
22 "Vote for candidates by indicating your first-choice candidates in
23 order of preference. Indicate your first choice by marking the number
24 "1" beside a candidate's name, your second choice by marking the number
25 "2" beside a candidate's name, your third choice by marking the number
26 "3" beside a candidate's name and so on, for as many choices as you
27 wish. You may choose to rank only one candidate, but ranking additional
28 candidates will not hurt the chances of your first-choice candidate. Do
29 not mark the same number beside more than one candidate. Do not skip
31 3. A sample ballot for an office subject to the instant runoff voting
32 method shall illustrate the voting procedure for the instant runoff
33 voting method. Such a sample ballot shall be included with each absentee
35 4. The appropriate election official for a local government where the
36 instant runoff voting method has been authorized by said local govern-
37 ment shall insure that the necessary voting system, vote tabulation
38 system, or other similar or related equipment shall be available to
39 accommodate the instant runoff voting method.
40 § 18-106. Instant runoff voting method; procedures. The following
41 procedures shall apply in determining the winner in an election for an
42 office subject to the instant runoff voting method:
43 1. The first choice marked on each ballot shall be counted initially
44 by election officials. If one candidate receives a majority of the votes
45 cast, excluding blank and void ballots, that candidate shall be declared
47 2. If no candidate receives a majority of first-choice votes cast at
48 the end of the initial count, the candidate receiving the fewest first-
49 choice votes shall be eliminated. Each vote cast for the eliminated
50 candidate shall be transferred to the candidate who was the voter's next
51 choice on the ballot.
52 3. Candidates with the fewest votes shall continue to be eliminated,
53 with the votes for such candidates transferred to the candidate who was
54 each voter's next choice on the ballot until a candidate receives a
55 majority of the votes cast, excluding blank and void ballots. When a
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1 candidate receives a majority of the votes cast, that candidate shall be
2 declared elected.
3 4. If a ballot has no more available choices ranked on it, that ballot
4 shall be declared exhausted. Where a ballot skips one or more numbers,
5 that ballot shall be declared exhausted when the skipping of numbers is
6 reached. A ballot with the same number for two or more candidates shall
7 be declared exhausted when these double numbers are reached.
8 5. In the case of a tie between candidates for last place, and thus
9 elimination, occurring at any stage in the tabulation, the tie shall be
10 resolved so as to eliminate the candidate who received the least number
11 of votes at the previous stage of tabulation. In the case of a tie to
12 which a previous stage does not apply, or such previous stage was also a
13 tie, the tie shall be resolved by drawing lots. However, if the tie
14 occurs when there are only two candidates remaining, the tie shall be
15 resolved in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.
16 § 18-108. Voter education. Where a local government shall pass a
17 resolution authorizing the instant runoff voting method, the governing
18 body shall conduct a voter education campaign on the instant runoff
19 voting system to familiarize voters with the ballot design, method of
20 voting, and advantages of determining a majority winner in a single
21 election. The governing body shall use public service announcements, as
22 well as seek other media cooperation to the maximum extent practicable.
23 § 18-110. Construction. All elections held by the instant runoff
24 voting method pursuant to this article shall be subject to all the other
25 provisions of this chapter and all other applicable laws relating to
26 elections, so far as is applicable and not inconsistent with this chap-
28 § 3. Severability. If any provision of this act or the application
29 thereof shall for any reason be adjudged by any court of competent
30 jurisdiction to be invalid, such judgment shall not affect, impair, or
31 invalidate the remainder of this act, but shall be confined in its oper-
32 ation to the provision thereof directly involved in the controversy in
33 which such judgment shall have been rendered.
34 § 4. This act shall take effect immediately, and shall expire December
35 31, 2022 when upon such date the provisions of this act shall be deemed