Relates to instant run-off elections in cities with a population of one million or more.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the election law, in relation to instant run-off voting in the city of New York; and to repeal certain provisions of such law relating thereto
PURPOSE: To establish instant run-off voting in primary elections for mayor, public advocate, and comptroller in the city of New York.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: Section 1 of the bill repeals Section 6-162 of the election law and adds a new Section 6162. Subdivision 1 defines which offices are subject to instant run-off voting. Subdivision 2 defines instant runoff voting and provides that a second round of voting, using the instant runoff voting method, shall take place if the candidate with the most votes receives less than fifty percent plus one vote in the initial round of voting. Subdivision 3 provides guidelines for the design of the ballots to be used in instant run-off elections. Subdivision 4 defines the instructions to be printed on the ballot. Subdivision 5 provides that the board of elections, with the approval of the state board of elections, may adopt devices, methods, and ballot formats for sorting, counting, tabulating, and invalidating votes for offices subject to instant runoff voting, provided that any such changes substantially conform to the provisions of this chapter.
Section 2 of the bill amends subdivision 2 of Section 7-114 of the election law to clarify that the instructions printed on the ballot for elections subject to instant run-off voting differ from the instructions typically printed on the ballot and can be found in Section 6162.
Section 3 sets forth the effective date.
JUSTIFICATION: Currently, if no candidate in a primary election, with more than two candidates for mayor, public advocate, or comptroller in New York City wins more than forty percent of the vote, a run-off election is held between the top two vote-getters two weeks later. Due to the adoption of paper ballots and optical scan ballot machines, the New York City Board of Elections cannot certify the results of a primary within the required two weeks, nor can it ensure that military and overseas voters receive their ballots in a timely manner. An instant run-off method would allow voters to rank their choices and cast their vote for a hypothetical runoff election at the same time that they cast their vote for the primary election. Since an instant runoff election eliminates the costs associated with a runoff election, the threshold for avoiding a runoff should be raised from a forty percent plurality of the votes cast in the primary to a fifty percent plus one majority.
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: New bill.
FISCAL IMPACT: None for the state. The city of New York would save 20 million dollars for each runoff election that would no longer need to be administered.
EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect January 1, 2015.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 6862 IN SENATE March 20, 2014 ___________Introduced by Sen. LANZA -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Elections AN ACT to amend the election law, in relation to instant run-off voting in the city of New York; and to repeal certain provisions of such law relating thereto THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Section 6-162 of the election law is REPEALED and a new section 6-162 is added to read as follows: S 6-162. PRIMARY; NEW YORK CITY, INSTANT RUN-OFF VOTING. 1. IN THE CITY OF NEW YORK, ANY CITY-WIDE PRIMARY ELECTIONS FOR THE OFFICE OF MAYOR, PUBLIC ADVOCATE OR COMPTROLLER, IN WHICH MORE THAN TWO CANDIDATES APPEAR ON THE BALLOT FOR THE SAME OFFICE, SHALL BE CONDUCTED BY INSTANT RUN-OFF VOTING. 2. FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS SECTION, THE TERM INSTANT RUN-OFF VOTING MEANS AN ELECTION IN WHICH VOTERS MAY RANK UP TO FIVE CANDIDATES IN ORDER OF PREFERENCE, FIRST, SECOND, AND SO ON, AND IN WHICH TABULATION PROCEEDS IN UP TO TWO ROUNDS AS FOLLOWS: IF THE CANDIDATE WITH THE MOST VOTES RECEIVES A VOTE TOTAL LESS THAN FIFTY PERCENT PLUS ONE VOTE, THE TWO CANDIDATES WITH THE MOST VOTES PROCEED TO A SECOND ROUND OF BALLOT- COUNTING. IN SUCH SECOND ROUND, EACH BALLOT IS COUNTED AS A VOTE FOR WHICHEVER OF THE TWO ADVANCING CANDIDATES IS RANKED HIGHER BY THAT VOTER. ANY BALLOT THAT DOES NOT RANK EITHER OF THE TWO ADVANCING CANDI- DATES SHALL NOT BE COUNTED IN THE SECOND ROUND. THE CANDIDATE WITH THE MOST VOTES IN THE SECOND ROUND SHALL BE DECLARED THE WINNER. 3. THAT PORTION OF THE BALLOT PERTAINING TO ELECTIONS CONDUCTED BY INSTANT RUN-OFF VOTING SHALL ALLOW A VOTER TO RANK CANDIDATES IN ORDER OF CHOICE IN A WAY THAT IS CLEAR AND EASY TO UNDERSTAND AND SHALL INCLUDE THE OPPORTUNITY TO RANK NO MORE THAN ONE WRITE-IN CANDIDATE. TO THE EXTENT POSSIBLE, BALLOTS SHALL BE DESIGNED SO THAT A VOTER MAY MARK THAT VOTER'S FIRST CHOICE IN THE SAME MANNER AS FOR OFFICES NOT ELECTED BY INSTANT RUN-OFF VOTING. 4. INSTRUCTIONS ON THE BALLOT FOR ELECTIONS CONDUCTED BY INSTANT RUN- OFF VOTING MUST CONFORM SUBSTANTIALLY TO THE FOLLOWING SPECIFICATIONS,EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD08671-05-4 S. 6862 2
SUBJECT TO MODIFICATION BASED ON BALLOT DESIGN, USABILITY TESTING AND VOTING MACHINES: "VOTE FOR CANDIDATES BY INDICATING YOUR FIRST-CHOICE CANDIDATE AND RANKING ADDITIONAL CANDIDATES IN ORDER OF PREFERENCE. INDICATE YOUR FIRST CHOICE BY INDICATING A NUMBER "1" BESIDE A CANDI- DATE'S NAME, YOUR SECOND CHOICE BY INDICATING A NUMBER "2" BESIDE A CANDIDATE'S NAME, YOUR THIRD CHOICE BY MARKING THE NUMBER "3" BESIDE A CANDIDATE'S NAME AND SO ON. YOU MAY CHOOSE TO RANK ONLY ONE CANDIDATE, BUT RANKING ANOTHER CANDIDATE AS A LOWER CHOICE WILL NOT HURT YOUR FIRST CHOICE. YOU MAY RANK THE SAME CANDIDATE MORE THAN ONCE, BUT THE ADDI- TIONAL RANKING DOES NOT HELP THAT CANDIDATE. DO NOT MARK THE SAME NUMBER BESIDE MORE THAN ONE CANDIDATE. DO NOT SKIP NUMBERS." 5. THE BOARD OF ELECTIONS, WITH THE APPROVAL OF THE STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS, MAY PROVIDE FOR THE USE OF MECHANICAL, ELECTRONIC OR OTHER DEVICES FOR SORTING AND COUNTING BALLOTS AND TABULATING RESULTS AND MAY MODIFY THE FORM OF THE BALLOTS, AND THE METHOD OF SORTING, COUNTING, AND INVALIDATING BALLOTS AND THE TABULATING AND RECOUNTING OF VOTES WITH RESPECT TO OFFICES ELECTED BY INSTANT RUN-OFF VOTING, PROVIDED THAT ANY CHANGE MADE SUBSTANTIALLY CONFORMS TO THIS CHAPTER. S 2. Paragraph (c) of subdivision 2 of section 7-114 of the election law, as amended by chapter 234 of the laws of 1976, is amended to read as follows: (c) On the front of the stub, above the perforated line at the top of the paper ballot shall be printed the same instructions as on the gener- al election ballot, AND ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS, IF ANY, REQUIRED UNDER SECTION 6-162 OF THIS CHAPTER. S 3. This act shall take effect January 1, 2015.