Bill S7033-2013

Enacts the "NYC instant run-off voting act"; repealer

Enacts the "NYC instant run-off voting act"; requires an instant run-off in any municipal election in New York City; provides that if one candidate for any municipal office receives a majority of first preferences, such candidate is elected; provides, however, if no candidate is the first choice of at least half the voters, the instant run-off re-tabulation shall be performed and then the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated; makes related changes.

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  • Apr 21, 2014: REFERRED TO ELECTIONS

Memo

BILL NUMBER:S7033

TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the election law, in relation to enacting the "NYC instant run-off voting act"; and to repeal subdivision 5 of section 3-705 and subdivision 6 of section 3-709 of the administrative code of the city of New York relating to certain run-off elections in the city of New York

PURPOSE:

This bill improves the current run-off system of elections for New York City offices by eliminating the current costly and low-turnout run-off election system in favor of an "instant runoff," whereby voters rank candidates by order of preference and the top two vote getters (if none receives an outright majority of votes), instantly move to a second and final round of counting based on the votes cast for them on the ballots of eliminated candidates.

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:

§ 1. Provides that the title of the act shall be the "instant run-off voting act."

§ 2. Section two provides for legislative findings.

§ 3. Amends section 6-162 of the election law to specify that all elections for municipal office in New York City use an "instant run-off voting" system. On every ballot using instant run-off voting, voters shall be given the chance to rank candidates in order of their preference. Ballots will be counted initially according to first choice, and if one candidate receives a majority of votes cast then the board of elections will certify that candidate as the winner. If no candidate receives a majority of the first choice voices, the Board of Elections will recount the ballots that rank the eliminated candidates as the first choice and that indicate one of the uneliminated candidates as an alternative choice. Each ballot is counted as one vote for the highest ranked candidate on that ballot who has not been eliminated. The candidate with the greater number of votes after the second round shall be certified as the winner.

§ 4. Repeals subdivision 5 of section 6-162 of the election law that relates to the administrative code of the city of New York.

§ 5. repeals subdivision 6 of section 6-162 of the election law that relates to the administrative code of the city of New York.

§ 6. Provides that the act shall take effect immediately.

JUSTIFICATION:

In 2013, New York City was required to hold a runoff election for the office of NYC Public Advocate. The runoff was necessary because none of the five candidates in the Democratic primary received 40 percent of the vote. Less than 190,000 Democrats voted in the runoff election. As of April 1, 2013 there were approximately 3.2 million registered Democrats in New York City. The runoff election cost New York City approximately $13 million for a meager election day turn-out.

The current run-off system of voting in primary elections for offices of mayor, comptroller and public advocate in New York City is unduly expensive and generates an unacceptably low turnout of voters. An instant run-off voting system would eliminate the need for a costly second election and avoid the meager election day turn-outs of runoff elections. Variations of instant-runoff voting are utilized by several cities in the United States including San Francisco, CA, San Leandro, CA, Oakland CA, Portland, ME, Minneapolis, MN, Saint Paul, MN, Takoma Park, MD and Telluride, CO.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:

New Bill.

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS:

No cost to the State. Will save New York City the cost of running run-off elections which cost $13 million in 2013.

EFFECTIVE DATE:

This act shall take effect immediately.


Text

STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 7033 IN SENATE April 21, 2014 ___________
Introduced by Sen. SANDERS -- 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 enacting the "NYC instant run-off voting act"; and to repeal subdivision 5 of section 3-705 and subdivision 6 of section 3-709 of the administrative code of the city of New York relating to certain run-off elections in the city of New York THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Short title. This act shall be known and may be cited as the "NYC instant run-off voting act". S 2. Legislative findings. The legislature hereby finds and declares that the run-off system of voting in primary elections for the offices of mayor, comptroller and public advocate in New York city is unduly expensive and generates an unacceptably low turnout of voters. Addi- tionally, the absence of any run-off system at all for the offices of borough president and council member has resulted in candidates being elected with much less than a majority of the votes cast, and signif- icantly dilutes minority voting power when multiple minority candidates compete for the same office. In an "instant run-off" system, voters rank candidates by order of preference, and if no candidate receives a major- ity of first-place votes, the top two candidates have the votes of elim- inated candidates redistributed to them in order of each voter's prefer- ence. The candidate with the most votes after this "second round" is the winner. An instant run-off voting system eliminates the need for a cost- ly and sparsely attended second election, rewards candidates who broaden their appeal as widely as possible, and promotes minority representation by limiting the dilution of minority voting power when multiple minority candidates are on the ballot for the same office. S 3. Section 6-162 of the election law, as amended by chapter 424 of the laws of 2010, is amended to read as follows: S 6-162. [Primary; New York City, run-off. 1. In the city of New York, when no candidate for the office of mayor, public advocate or comp- troller receives forty percent or more of the votes cast by the members
of a political party for such office in a city-wide primary election, the board of elections of such city shall conduct a run-off primary election between the two candidates receiving the greatest number of votes for the same office. 2. In any jurisdiction that authorizes a run-off election after a primary election, if one of the two candidates receiving the greatest number of votes for the same office files with the local board of elections a certificate of withdrawal within three days following such primary election, the board shall accept and certify the withdrawal and declare the remaining candidate the winner and no such run-off primary election shall be held. Such certificate of withdrawal shall be in affi- davit or affirmation form as determined by the state board of elections.]
INSTANT RUN-OFF VOTING IN NEW YORK CITY. 1. ELECTIONS FOR MUNICIPAL OFFICE IN THE CITY OF NEW YORK SHALL USE AN "INSTANT RUN-OFF VOTING" SYSTEM. 2. ON EVERY BALLOT USING INSTANT RUN-OFF VOTING, THE VOTERS SHALL BE GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY TO RANK CANDIDATES IN THE ORDER OF THEIR PREFER- ENCE. 3. THE FOLLOWING PROCEDURES SHALL BE USED TO DETERMINE WINNERS IN INSTANT RUN-OFF VOTING: (A) THE BALLOTS SHALL BE COUNTED INITIALLY ACCORDING TO THE FIRST CHOICE MARKED ON EACH BALLOT. IF ONE CANDIDATE RECEIVES FORTY PERCENT OF THE VOTES CAST, THE BOARD OF ELECTIONS SHALL CERTIFY THAT CANDIDATE AS THE WINNER. (B) IF AT THE END OF THE INITIAL ROUND OF COUNTING, NO CANDIDATE RECEIVED FORTY PERCENT OF FIRST CHOICES, ALL CANDIDATES SHALL BE ELIMI- NATED EXCEPT THE TWO CANDIDATES WITH THE GREATEST NUMBER OF FIRST CHOIC- ES. THE BOARD OF ELECTIONS SHALL THEN CONDUCT A SECOND, FINAL ROUND OF COUNTING IN WHICH BALLOTS THAT RANK ELIMINATED CANDIDATES AS A FIRST CHOICE AND THAT INDICATE ONE OF THE UNELIMINATED CANDIDATES AS AN ALTER- NATIVE CHOICE SHALL BE COUNTED AS VOTES FOR WHICHEVER OF THE UNELIMI- NATED CANDIDATES IS RANKED HIGHER ON EACH BALLOT. IN THE SECOND ROUND, EACH BALLOT IS COUNTED AS ONE VOTE FOR THE HIGHEST RANKED CANDIDATE ON THAT BALLOT WHO HAS NOT BEEN ELIMINATED. THE CANDIDATE WITH THE GREATER NUMBER OF VOTES IN THE SECOND ROUND SHALL BE CERTIFIED AS THE WINNER. (C) IN CASE OF A TIE BETWEEN CANDIDATES SUCH THAT TWO OR MORE CANDI- DATES HAVE AN EQUAL NUMBER OF FIRST CHOICES AND MORE THAN TWO CANDIDATES QUALIFY FOR THE SECOND ROUND, INSTANT RUN-OFF VOTING SHALL BE USED TO DETERMINE WHICH TWO CANDIDATES SHALL ADVANCE TO THE SECOND ROUND. S 4. Subdivision 5 of section 3-705 of the administrative code of the city of New York is REPEALED. S 5. Subdivision 6 of section 3-709 of the administrative code of the city of New York is REPEALED. S 6. This act shall take effect immediately.

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