TWENTY-NINTH LEGISLATURE, 2017
STATE OF HAWAII
A BILL FOR AN ACT
RELATING TO ELECTIONS.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:
SECTION 1. The legislature finds that the current plurality voting method in special elections allows a candidate to win an election with less than a majority of votes when there are more than two candidates for the office. In elections with many candidates, the plurality method may result in winners who received small percentages of votes and who are not widely supported by voters. For the winners, this may raise concerns about a lack of public support and confidence that may undermine the ability of the elected to govern effectively.
Ranked choice voting is an election method that provides voters the ability to rank candidates in order of choice, as the voter's first, second, and later choices. Tabulation begins with each voter's first choice vote. If a candidate receives a majority of votes, that candidate wins. If no candidate receives a majority of votes, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and each vote counting for that candidate
counts for the voter's next choice in the subsequent round. That process repeats by eliminating the candidate with the fewest votes and counting each vote for the highest ranked remaining candidate in the next round, until two candidates remain, and the candidate with the most votes wins.
The legislature further finds that ranked choice voting has been used effectively in the United States and around the world. Notable cities include San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, and San Leandro, California; and Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota. In 2010, North Carolina used ranked choice voting for a statewide judicial vacancy election as well as three county-level judicial elections. Five states, South Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, and Arkansas use ranked choice voting for uniformed and overseas voters in primary elections with potential runoffs. Ranked choice voting is used in many other countries, including by voters in Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, Malta, Northern Ireland, and Scotland. Voters in the state of Maine voted to adopt ranked choice for all state and congressional offices in November 2016.
Finally, the legislature finds that modern voting systems,
including optical scanners produced by Hawaii’s current voting system vendor, have federal certification for ranked choice voting capability.
The purpose of this Act is to authorize the use of ranked choice voting for special elections held for Congressional races in this State and for council member races in counties that adopt ranked choice voting.
SECTION 2. Chapter 11, Hawaii Revised States, is amended by adding three new sections to part X to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:
"§11-A Ranked choice voting; procedure for counting votes. (a) To determine the winners in an election conducted by ranked choice voting, election officials shall initially count each ballot as one vote for the candidate at its highest continuing ranking or as an inactive ballot. If a candidate has more than half of the total votes counting for candidates, that candidate shall be declared the winner for that office and tabulation is complete.
(b) If no candidate is declared the winner after the initial count, the tabulation proceeds in rounds. Each round shall proceed sequentially as follows:
(1) If two or fewer continuing candidates remain, the candidate with the greatest number of votes shall be declared the winner for that office and tabulation is complete; and
(2) If more than two continuing candidates remain, the candidate with the fewest votes is deemed defeated. Votes for the defeated candidate shall cease counting for the defeated candidate and shall be added to the totals of each ballot’s highest ranked continuing candidate or counted as inactive ballots. A new round then begins with subsection (b)(1).
(c) Once a winner has been declared pursuant to subsection (b), a certificate of election declaring the results shall be issued pursuant to section 11-156.
§11-B Ranked choice voting; generally. (a) A ballot shall be deemed inactive if it does not rank any continuing candidates, if it ranks more than one continuing candidate at its highest continuing ranking, or if it includes two or more consecutive skipped rankings prior to its highest continuing ranking.
(b) The chief election official shall determine a random selection algorithm prior to tabulation to resolve ties between candidates. If a tie between candidates occurs at any stage in the tabulation and tabulation cannot proceed until the tie is resolved, then the random selection algorithm shall resolve the tie.
§11-C Ranked choice voting; application. (a) Any federal election not held on the date of a regularly scheduled primary or general election shall be conducted by ranked choice voting. Any federal election conducted by ranked choice voting shall be conducted by mail, pursuant to section 11-91.5. No subsequent separate runoff election shall be held.
(b) Any county may declare, by ordinance, charter, or charter amendment, that elections for county council member shall be conducted by ranked choice voting. For any such elections, no prior primary election or subsequent separate runoff election shall be held.
(c) The election proclamation required pursuant to section 11-91 shall state that votes shall be cast and tabulated using ranked choice voting and provide an explanation of ranked choice voting.
(d) For purposes of this section, the chief election officer and county clerks shall adopt rules pursuant to chapter 91 to provide for the use of mechanical, electronic, or other means devised for marking, sorting, and counting the ballots and tabulating the votes for any election conducted by ranked choice voting.
(e) For any election conducted by ranked choice voting prior to the year 2021, the chief election officer and county clerks may modify the ballot and tabulation to the extent necessary to administer the election on the current voting system in any of the following ways:
(1) The number of allowable rankings may be limited to no fewer than three;
(2) If a candidate in any round has more than half of the votes counting for candidates in that round, then that candidate may be elected and no further tabulation shall be conducted;
(3) The method for resolving ties between candidates at any point in the tabulation procedure may be modified as necessary; or
(4) An inactive ballot may be modified as necessary; provided that a ballot that ranks a continuing candidate at its highest continuing ranking may not be counted as an inactive ballot.
(f) In any election conducted by ranked choice voting, the ballot shall be simple and easy to understand. The ballot shall allow voters to rank every listed candidate in order of choice, or if the chief election officer determines that it is not feasible to allow voters to rank every candidate, the number of allowable rankings may be limited to the smaller of six or the number of candidates listed. Prior to finalization and printing, sample ballots shall be made available for at least seven days on the office of elections' website and at the office of elections for public review and comment. Sample ballots illustrating the procedures for ranked choice voting shall be included in the instruction materials for mail ballots, and posted on the office of elections' website. The office of elections shall distribute educational materials explaining ranked choice voting prior to the election."
SECTION 3. Section 11-1, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by adding four new definitions to be appropriately inserted and to read as follows:
""Continuing candidate" means any candidate that has not been defeated or elected.
"Highest continuing ranking" means the highest ranking for any continuing candidate on a ballot that is not an inactive ballot.
"Ranked choice voting" means the method of casting and tabulating votes in which voters rank candidates in order of choice, tabulation proceeds in sequential rounds in which last-place candidates are defeated, and the candidate with the most votes in the final round is elected.
"Ranking" means the number assigned by a voter to a candidate to express the voter’s choice for that candidate. A ranking of "1" is the highest ranking followed by "2" then "3" and proceeding until the largest number is reached."
SECTION 4. Section 11-112, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended to read as follows:
"§11-112 Contents of ballot. (a) The ballot shall contain
the names of the candidates, their party affiliation or nonpartisanship in partisan election contests, the offices for which they are running, and the district in which the election is being held. In multimember races the ballot shall state that
the voter shall not vote for more than the number of seats
the number of candidates listed where [
such] the number of
candidates is [ less] fewer than the number of seats
(b) The ballot may include questions concerning proposed state constitutional amendments, proposed county charter amendments, or proposed initiative or referendum issues.
(c) At the chief election officer's discretion, the ballot may have a background design imprinted onto it.
(d) When the electronic voting system is used, the ballot may have pre-punched codes and printed information which identify the voting districts, precincts, and ballot sets to facilitate the electronic data processing of these ballots.
(e) The name of the candidate may be printed with the Hawaiian or English equivalent or nickname, if the candidate so requests in writing at the time the candidate's nomination papers are filed. Candidates' names, including the Hawaiian or English equivalent or nickname, shall be set on one line.
(f) The ballot shall bear no word, motto, device, sign, or symbol other than as allowed in this title.
(g) The ballot may include information necessary to use ranked choice voting as described in sections 11-A, 11-B, and 11-C."
SECTION 5. Section 11-151, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended to read as follows:
"§11-151 Vote count. [
Except for contests conducted by ranked choice voting, each contest or
question on a ballot shall be counted independently as follows:
(1) If the votes cast in a contest or on a question are equal to or less than the number to be elected or chosen for that contest or question, the votes for that contest or question shall be counted;
(2) If the votes cast in a contest or question exceed the number to be elected or chosen for that contest or question, the votes for that contest or question shall not be counted; and
(3) If a contest or question requires a majority of the votes for passage, any blank, spoiled, or invalid ballot shall not be tallied for passage or as votes cast except that such ballots shall be counted as votes cast in ratification of a constitutional amendment or a question for a constitutional convention."
SECTION 6. Section 11-152, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended to read as follows:
"§11-152 Method of counting. (a) In an election using the paper ballot voting system, immediately after the close of the polls, the chairperson of the precinct officials shall open the ballot box. The precinct officials at the precinct shall proceed to count the votes as follows:
(1) The whole number of ballots shall first be counted to see if their number corresponds with the number of ballots cast as recorded by the precinct officials;
(2) If the number of ballots corresponds with the number of persons
recorded by the precinct officials as having voted, the precinct officials
shall then proceed to count the [
vote] votes cast for each
(3) If there are more ballots or [
less] fewer ballots
than the record calls for the precinct, officials shall proceed as directed in
(b) In those precincts using the electronic voting system, the ballots shall be taken in the sealed ballot boxes to the counting center according to the procedure and schedule promulgated by the chief election officer to promote the security of the ballots. In the presence of official observers, counting center employees may start to count the ballots prior to the closing of the polls; provided that there shall be no printout by the computer or other disclosure of the number of votes cast for a candidate or on a question prior to the closing of the polls. For the purposes of this section, the closing of the polls is that time identified in section 11-131 as the closing hour of voting.
(c) In an election conducted by ranked choice voting, votes shall be counted as provided in sections 11-A and 11-B."
SECTION 7. Section 11-155, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended to read as follows:
"§11-155 Certification of results of election. On receipt of certified tabulations from the election officials concerned, the chief election officer in state elections or county clerk in county elections shall compile, certify, and release the election results after the expiration of the time for bringing an election contest. The certification shall be based on a comparison and reconciliation of the following:
(1) The results of the canvass of ballots conducted pursuant to chapter 16;
(2) The audit of pollbooks (and related record books) and resultant overage and underage report;
(3) The audit results of the manual audit team;
(4) The results of the absentee ballot reconciliation report compiled by the clerks; and
(5) All logs, tally sheets, and other documents generated during the election and in the canvass of the election results.
A certificate of election or a certificate of results declaring the
results of the election as of election day shall be issued pursuant to section
11-156; provided that in the event of an overage or underage, a list of all
precincts in which an overage or underage occurred shall be attached to the
certificate. The [
number of] candidates to be elected [ receiving the
highest number of] who receive the most votes in any election
district shall be declared to be elected[ .]; provided that candidates
for office elected by ranked choice voting shall be declared to be elected
pursuant to section 11-A. Unless otherwise provided, the term of office
shall begin or end as of the close of polls on election day. The position
on the question receiving the appropriate majority of the votes cast shall be
reflected in a certificate of results issued pursuant to section 11-156."
SECTION 8. In codifying the new sections added by section 2 of this Act, the revisor of statutes shall substitute appropriate section numbers for the letters used in designating the new sections in this Act.
SECTION 9. Statutory material to be repealed is bracketed and stricken. New statutory material is underscored.
SECTION 10. This Act shall take effect upon its approval; provided that no later than December 31, 2017, the chief election officer and each county clerk shall adopt rules pursuant to chapter 91, Hawaii Revised Statutes, to effectuate the purposes of this Act.
Elections; Ranked Choice Voting
Establishes ranked choice voting for special election for Congressional races and for the election of council members in counties that have adopted the method.
The summary description of legislation appearing on this page is for informational purposes only and is not legislation or evidence of legislative intent.