Model Ranked Voting Enabling Bill (Medium Detail)

RANKED CHOICE VOTING Enabling legislation  (medium detail)

Section 1.


(a) Any city or county may conduct a local election using ranked choice voting in which voters rank the candidates for office in order of preference. Ranked choice voting elections may be used for single-winner elections, such as Mayor, or for elections that elect multiple candidates to office, such as city council. Ranked choice voting elections are tabulated in rounds as specified in Section 2 for single-winner elections and Section 3 for multiple-winner elections. General provisions for both single-winner elections and multiple-winner elections are specified in this section.

(b) As used in this chapter, the following definitions shall apply:
(1) "Ranked choice voting" means an election method in which voters rank the candidates for office in order of preference, and the ballots are counted in rounds that, in the case of a single-winner election, simulate a series of runoffs until only two candidates remain, with the one having the greater number of votes being declared the winner, or in the case of multiple-winner elections, until all seats to be elected have been filled.
(2) "Qualified candidate" means any candidate listed on the ballot for this election or any write-in candidate qualified for participation in this election.
(3) "Ranking" for a candidate on a voter's ballot is the number assigned to that candidate by the voter to express their order preference for that candidate, with the "highest ranking" being the one with the lowest numerical value for a qualified candidate, in which a first choice ranking indicates a greater preference for a candidate than a second choice ranking, and "highest continuing ranking" for a candidate on a voter's ballot is the ranking with the lowest numerical value for a continuing candidate. The "highest ranking" and
"highest continuing ranking" are those rankings already advanced past blank choices or marks for unqualified write-in candidates as specified in (f) and (g) below.
(4)     (A) "Continuing ballot" means a ballot that counts towards some candidate.
(B) "Continuing candidate" means a qualified candidate that has not been elected or eliminated.
(C) "Majority of votes" means more than 50 percent of the votes coming from continuing ballots.

(c) A voting method authorized by this section may be adopted by any of the following:
(1) By approval of a ballot measure submitted to the voters by the governing body of the city or county at a regular or special election.
(2) By initiative ordinance or charter amendment.

(d) Any city or county using a ranked choice voting method shall conduct a voter education and outreach campaign to familiarize voters with ranked choice voting.

(e) The ranked choice voting ballot shall allow voters to rank as many choices as there are candidates. In the event that the voting equipment cannot feasibly accommodate a number of rankings on the ballot equal to the number of candidates, the elections official may limit the number of choices a voter may rank to the maximum number allowed by the equipment. This limit shall never be less than three if there are three or more candidates.

(f) The ballot shall not interfere with a voter's ability to rank at least one write-in candidate. For the purposes of this section, a mark for an unqualified write-in candidate shall not be considered a mark for a candidate.

(g) In the first or any round, in the event that any ballot reaches a ranking with no candidate indicated, that ballot shall immediately be advanced to the next ranking.

(h) In the event that two or more candidates tie for the smallest number of votes, and thus elimination, the candidate to eliminate shall be chosen by lot.

(i) After each round, any ballot that is not continuing is an undervote, overvote, or exhausted ballot, pursuant to this subdivision. Any ballot that has no candidates indicated at any ranking shall be declared an "undervote." If any ballot reaches a ranking with more than one candidate indicated, that ballot shall
immediately be declared an "overvote." If any ballot cannot be advanced because no further candidates are ranked on that ballot, that ballot shall immediately be declared "exhausted." Any ballot that has been declared an undervote, overvote, or exhausted shall remain so and shall not count towards any candidate in that round or in subsequent rounds.


Section 2.

A voting method enacted pursuant to Section 10050 for an election to elect a single candidate to office shall be known as "instant runoff voting" and shall be conducted in the following manner:
(a) The ballots shall be counted in rounds pursuant to all of the following order:
(1) In the first round, every ballot shall count as a vote towards the candidate indicated by the highest continuing ranking on that ballot.
(2) If a candidate receives a majority of votes in the initial round, that candidate shall be declared elected.
(3) If no candidate receives an initital majority, the candidate receiving the smallest number of votes shall be eliminated, and every ballot counting towards that candidate shall be advanced to the next-ranked
continuing candidate on the ballot. If there is a tie between two or more candidates for the smallest number of votes, the tie shall be resolved by lot. All the ballots shall be counted again in a new round.
(4) This process shall continue until there are only two candidates remaining, with the candidate having the greatest number of votes in this final round being elected.
(5) If and those two candidates have the same number of votes from the continuing ballots, the tie shall be resolved according to state statutes for ties in other elections.
(b) During the elimination stage of any round, in the event that any candidate has more votes than the combined vote total of all candidates with fewer votes, but less than a majority of votes, all the candidates with fewer votes than this candidate shall be eliminated simultaneously, and those ballots advanced to the
next-ranked continuing candidate.

Section 3.

A voting method enacted pursuant to Section 10050 for an election to elect two or more candidates to office shall be known as "choice voting" and shall be conducted in the following manner:
(a) The minimum threshold of votes necessary to be elected shall be determined by dividing the total number of votes cast for that office by one more than the number of offices to be filled and then adding one vote, and then ignoring any fraction, as shown in the following formula:
The total number of votes cast, divided by the sum of one plus the number of offices to be filled, plus one, ignoring any fraction, equals the minimum threshold of votes necessary to be elected.
(b) All ballots are counted and each ballot is allocated as a vote to the candidate receiving the highest ranking.
(c) Each candidate that receives the minimum threshold of votes necessary to be elected shall be declared elected.
(d) If a candidate on the first count has a number of highest ranking votes exactly equal to the minimum number of votes needed to be elected, then that candidate is declared elected and the counted ballots indicating that candidate as a highest ranking are put aside and the other rankings recorded on the ballots are not examined.
(e) If a candidate on the first count gains more than the minimum number of votes needed to be elected, the candidate is declared elected, and the number of votes in excess of the number of votes needed to be elected (the surplus) is recorded. All of the elected candidate's ballots are then reexamined and assigned to candidates not yet elected according to the highest continuing ranking on the ballots of those who gave a first preference vote to the elected candidate. These votes are allocated according to a "transfer value." The formula for the transfer value is:
Surplus votes cast for the elected candidate, divided by total number of votes received by the elected candidate, calculated out to four decimal places using "rounding to nearest" equals the transfer value.
(f) If two or more candidates on the first count gain more than the minimum number of votes needed to be elected, all of those candidates are declared elected. Each of the ballots of the candidate with the largest number of highest ranking votes will be reexamined first and assigned (at the transfer value) to candidates not yet elected according to the next highest continuing ranking marked on that ballot. The ballots of the other elected candidates will then be reexamined and their surpluses distributed in order according to the
number of highest ranking votes each candidate received.
(g) (1) If a candidate reaches more than the minimum number of votes needed to be elected as the consequence of a transfer of votes from an elected candidate, the number of votes in excess of the
number of votes needed to be elected shall be transferred to other candidates. This transfer will be to the next highest continuing ranking shown on each of this candidate's ballots. These ballots now include (A) ballots indicating this candidate as the highest ranking, and (B) the ballots transferred to the candidate from one or more elected candidates. The transfer value for the ballots on which the candidate was indicated by the highest ranking is the same as the transfer value defined in subdivision (e).
(2) The transfer value for each ballot transferred to the candidate from one or more previously elected candidates shall be the surplus votes cast for the elected candidate divided by the total number of votes received by the elected candidate multiplied by the previous transfer value of the ballot received by that candidate, as shown in the following formula:
(3) The surplus votes cast for the elected candidate, divided by the total number of votes received by the elected candidate, multiplied by the previous transfer value of the ballot received by that candidate, calculated out to four decimal places using "rounding to nearest."
(h) If no candidate has a number of votes equal to or greater than the minimum number of votes needed to be elected, either on the first count or as a consequence of a redistribution of surplus votes from a previously elected candidate, the candidate with the smallest number of votes is eliminated. All of eliminated candidate's ballots, both ballots indicating that candidate as the highest ranking and any ballots transferred from other candidates, are transferred to the next highest continuing ranking on the eliminated candidate's ballots.
The ballots in which the eliminated candidate was indicated by the highest ranking are transferred to the candidate indicated by next highest continuing ranking on that ballot at full value. Ballots received from previously elected or previously eliminated candidates are transferred at the transfer value at which the ballots were received.
(i) Tabulation of votes shall continue in the following sequence:
(1) The surplus votes of elected candidates shall be redistributed until no more candidates receive the minimum threshold of votes necessary to be elected. The surplus votes of the newly elected candidate with the greatest surplus will be distributed first, and the surpluses of the other newly elected candidates will then be distributed in order according to the number of surplus votes of each elected candidate awaiting transfer of surplus votes.
(2) Candidates are eliminated as specified in subdivision (h) and the votes of eliminated candidates are redistributed until another candidate receives the minimum threshold of votes necessary to be elected.
(3) When the number of elected and continuing candidates is equal to the number of candidates to be elected, all of the continuing candidates are declared elected even though they may not have reached
the minimum threshold of votes necessary to be elected.
(j) A tie between two or more candidates for fewest votes, as specified in subdivision (h), shall be resolved by lot and that candidate chosen by lot shall be eliminated. A tie between two or more candidates for the number of highest ranking votes received, as specified in subdivision (f), or the most surplus votes, as specified in paragraph (1) of subdivision (i), shall be resolved by lot and the candidate chosen by lot shall be the first to have his or her surplus votes transferred.

Section 4.

The instructions to the voters for an election that uses ranked choice voting shall read substantially as follows:
"Rank the candidates in order of choice. To vote for a candidate fill in the oval in the first choice column in line with the candidate's name. You may rank, alternate choices by filling in the oval in the second choice column in line with the name of your second choice, filling in the oval for a third choice in the third choice column in line with your third choice, and so on. Do not give the same number ranking to more than one candidate. You may rank as many or as few of the candidates as you choose, up to the limit specified, if any. Your second choice will not hurt your first choice, your third choice will not hurt your first or second choice, and so on.
You may include qualified write-in candidates in your rankings by writing the person's name in the blank spaces provided for that purpose after the names of the other candidates for the same office, and then marking the desired ranking in the voting square to the right of that name."
The instructions may be modified as appropriate for the specific voting equipment used, as long as the intent is preserved.

Section 5.

If voting machines capable of storing and reporting records of each ballot's rankings are used, summary, ballot image, and comprehensive reports shall be made available after each ranked choice voting election, as follows:
(a) The "summary report" for a race means a report that lists the candidate vote totals in each round, along with the cumulative numbers of undervotes, overvotes, and exhausted ballots in each round.
(b) The "ballot image report" for a race means a report that lists, for each ballot, the candidate or candidates indicated at each ranking, the precinct of the ballot, and whether the ballot was cast absentee. In the report, the ballots shall be listed in an order that does not permit the order in which they were cast in each precinct to be reconstructed.
(c) The "comprehensive report" for a race means a report that breaks the numbers in the summary report down by precinct. The report shall list, for each round, the number of ballots cast in each precinct that count as votes for each candidate in that round, that have been declared undervotes, that have been declared overvotes up to that point, and that have been declared exhausted up to that point.
(d) Mode and manner of release. Preliminary versions of the summary report and ballot image report shall be made available as soon as possible after the commencement of the official canvass of the vote pursuant to Section 15301 and prior to the 1 percent manual tally pursuant to Section 15360. The summary report, ballot image report, comprehensive report, and preliminary versions of the summary report and ballot image report shall be made available to the public during the canvass via the Internet and by other means. The ballot image report and preliminary versions of the ballot image report shall be made available in a plain text electronic format.