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WA state IRV bill 2698 hearing / language

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  • John Murray
    From: Brent White ... House Bill 2698, which would implement instant runoff voting in state partisan general elections, is
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 3, 2002
      From: "Brent White" <peaceseeker_@...>
      House Bill 2698, which would implement instant runoff voting in state partisan general elections, is scheduled for a hearing next Thursday, February 7, in Olympia. The hearing is 6:00 pm in House Hearing Room D of the John L. O'Brien Building, just southwest of the Capitol.
      HB 2698 is receiving nearly even bipartisan support in both houses.
      Brent White
      The Coalition for Instant Runoff Voting in Washington
      17544 Midvale Ave N  Ste 107
      Shoreline, WA  98133
      The bill language:
      H-3616.1   _______________________________________________

                                 HOUSE BILL 2698

      State of Washington       57th Legislature       2002 Regular Session

      By Representatives Dunshee and Jarrett

      Read first time 01/24/2002.  Referred to Committee on State Government.
          AN ACT Relating to the process for election to Washington state and
      federal elective office; amending RCW 29.65.050; adding a new chapter
      to Title 29 RCW; and creating a new section.


          {+ NEW SECTION. +}  Sec. 1.  FINDINGS AND PURPOSE.  The legislature
      finds that it is in the public interest to adopt a voting system in
      which all successful candidates would win by a majority vote rather
      than a plurality of effective votes and that allows voters to rank
      candidates according to preference.  A system known as instant runoff
      voting (or IRV) best achieves that purpose.  The legislature further
      finds that voter interest and participation in elections will increase
      under IRV because voters have more choices and all votes will be more
      meaningful than under the present plurality system.  It is in the
      interest of participatory democracy that voters be given the
      opportunity to vote their true beliefs with their first choice votes,
      yet still being able to make effective alternative choices among the
      remaining candidates in case their favorite candidate is not elected.

          {+ NEW SECTION. +}  Sec. 2.  DEFINITIONS.  The definitions in this
      section apply throughout this chapter.
          (1) "Instant runoff voting" (or IRV) means a system of voting in
      which voters may rank candidates for the same office in order of
      preference, so that voters can rank candidates as follows:  First
      choice, second choice, and so on for as many of the candidates for such
      office as they wish, up to the maximum choices allowed.
          (2) "Choice" means an indication on a ballot of a voter's ranking
      of candidates for a particular office in order of preference.
          (3) "Vote" means a ballot choice that is counted toward election of
      a candidate under rules and procedures of this chapter.  All first
      choices are initially counted as votes.  Lower ranked choices are
      potential votes that may, according to the procedures of this chapter,
      be credited to a candidate as votes for the election of that candidate.
      Choices made for a candidate who has been eliminated are no longer
      considered to be votes.
          (4) "Stage" or "stage in the counting" means a given phase in the
      vote counting process where votes for all remaining candidates are
      counted to determine whether a candidate has achieved a majority and,
      if not, which candidate or candidates are eliminated.
          (5) "Eliminate" or "eliminated candidate" refers to a situation
      where a candidate has not received sufficient votes under IRV rules and
      who is accordingly dropped from the field of candidates.
          (6) "Remaining candidate" means a candidate who, at a particular
      stage, has not been eliminated.  "Candidates who remain" are all those
      who have not been eliminated at the stage referred to.
          (7) "Next choice" means the highest ranked choice for a remaining
      candidate that has not yet been credited to the candidate indicated in
      that choice.
          (8) "Last-place candidate" means a candidate who has received the
      fewest choices among the candidates who remain at any stage.  Two or
      more candidates simultaneously become last-place candidates where the
      combined choices for all such candidates add up to less than all
      choices for the candidate with the next fewest number of votes.
          (9) "Exhausted ballot" means a ballot on which there are no choices
      for remaining candidates.
          (10) "Continuing ballot" means a ballot that is not exhausted.

          {+ NEW SECTION. +}  Sec. 3.  INSTANT RUNOFF VOTING.  The instant
      runoff voting system is adopted in Washington in the manner specified
      in this chapter for all general elections.

          {+ NEW SECTION. +}  Sec. 4. COUNTING OF BALLOTS.  (1) General
      description.  In general, instant runoff vote counting proceeds in the
      following manner:  In the first stage all first choice votes are
      counted.  If a candidate receives a majority of votes he or she is
      elected.  If no candidate receives a majority on the first or a
      subsequent stage then the last-place candidate at that stage is
      eliminated.  The next choices on ballots for an eliminated candidate
      become votes for the candidates indicated in those choices, and that
      process continues until all but one candidate has been eliminated.
          (2) Specific rules and procedures.  The following specific rules
      and procedures, subject to the conditions of section 5 of this act,
      govern how votes are counted for each office that is subject to instant
      runoff voting:
          (a) All first choices are counted in the first stage, and if a
      candidate has obtained a majority of those votes that candidate is
      elected and counting ends.
          (b) If no candidate receives a majority of votes at the first
      stage, then second stage counting begins by eliminating the last-place
      candidate, and the second choices made on ballots for the eliminated
      candidate become votes for the second choice candidate indicated on
      each of those ballots.  A candidate who has a majority of votes at that
      stage is elected.
          (c) If no candidate receives a majority at a previous stage, then
      the last-place candidate among the remaining candidates is eliminated,
      and the next choices made on ballots for an eliminated candidate become
      votes for the candidate indicated by that choice.  A candidate who has
      a majority of votes at that stage is elected.
          (d) The counting process continues in this manner with successive
      last-place candidates being eliminated.  The next choices made on
      continuing ballots on which votes were cast for eliminated candidates
      are counted for the remaining candidate or candidates indicated by
      those choices until all but one candidate has been eliminated.  That
      candidate is then elected.

      (1) Exhausted ballots.  (a) Once a ballot is exhausted it is
      disregarded and no longer counted.
          (b) A ballot indicating duplicate choices, i.e. giving the same
      ranking to more than one candidate for the same office, is exhausted
      when the duplicate choice is reached, and in that case no vote is
      recorded for any candidate who received a duplicate choice.
          (2) Skipped ranking.  If a ballot choice skips a ranking, then the
      next ranking below the skipped choice is moved up and counted as though
      it were the rank of the skipped choice.
          (3) Tie votes.  Ties between candidates occurring at any stage are
      resolved according to the general election laws of the state of
          (4) Maximum effective choices.  Only the first five choices for any
      one office on a ballot are counted.
          (5) Write-in votes.  Voters may write in one candidate for each
      office and assign a ranking to the write-in candidate along with
      candidates whose names are already on the ballot.
          (6) Insufficient choice votes made.  If all the ballots cast do not
      contain sufficient effective second and lower choices for a particular
      office so that at the last stage of counting no candidate has achieved
      a majority, then the candidate with the most votes credited to him or
      her is elected.
          (7) Votes for eliminated candidates.  No votes may be counted for
      a candidate who has been eliminated no matter how many second and lower
      ranked choices might otherwise have become votes for such candidate in
      a later stage.

          {+ NEW SECTION. +}  Sec. 6.  APPLICABILITY.  (1) Offices covered.
      This chapter applies to elections for the following offices:
          (a) The governor and all other statewide elected officials of the
      state of Washington;
          (b) Members of the Washington legislature;
          (c) Judges of the supreme court, court of appeals, the superior
      courts, and district courts of this state;
          (d) President and vice president of the United States; and
          (e) Members of the United States senate and United States house of
          (2) Types of elections covered.  This chapter applies to and
      governs voting in all general elections where three or more candidates
      are running for the same office.
          (3) Application to local government.  All general elections for
      offices of county, city, town, special purpose district, school
      district, port district, or any other local governmental unit or
      subdivision having elected officers are governed by IRV under this
      chapter unless the local governmental unit opts out of this system by
      appropriate action of its governing body.

      TO VOTERS.  Ballots should be simple and easy to understand.  Sample
      ballots illustrating voting procedures must be posted in or near the
      voting booth, and included in the instruction packet of absentee
      ballots.  Directions provided to voters must conform substantially to
      the following specifications:

              "You may vote for candidates for each office in order of
          preference.  Indicate your first choice by marking the number
          "1" beside a candidate's name (or by marking in the column
          labeled "First Choice"), your second choice by marking the
          number "2" (or by marking in the column labeled "Second
          Choice"), your third choice by the number "3" (or marking the
          "Third Choice" column) and so on, for as many or as few choices
          as you wish from one up to a total of five.  You are under no
          obligation to rank more than one candidate for each office, but
          ranking additional candidates will not affect your first-choice
          candidate.  Do not mark the same number beside more than one
          candidate (or put more than one mark in each column for the
          office you are voting on) per office.  Do not skip numbers."

      METHODS.  Appropriate election officials of the state may provide for
      the use of electronic, computerized, or other devices for marking,
      sorting, and counting the ballots and tabulating the results, and may
      modify the design and form of the ballots, the directions to voters,
      and the details with respect to the method of marking, sorting,
      invalidating, and retaining of ballots, and the counting of votes.  No
      change may be made inconsistent with provisions, purposes, or
      principles of this chapter.  Election officials should provide voters
      with a ballot that has a special design, format, or layout for offices
      to which IRV applies, but the parts of ballots for contests that have
      only one or two candidates for the same office may differ from the
      parts of a ballot to which IRV applies.

          {+ NEW SECTION. +}  Sec. 9.  CONSTRUCTION.  (1) Construction of
      other election statutes.  All statutes and parts of statutes relating
      to elections to which this chapter applies are to be construed
      consistent with this chapter and must be interpreted to the greatest
      reasonable extent to harmonize with this chapter.
          (2) Interpretation of the term "votes."  A statute that refers to
      "votes" in an election to which this chapter applies should be
      construed so that votes are counted and treated as set forth in this
      chapter, and the term "votes" or the phrase "greatest number of votes"
      or "highest number of votes" in any such statute must be interpreted to
      mean "votes" as defined in this chapter.

          Sec. 10.  RCW 29.65.050 and 1965 c 9 s 29.65.050 are each amended
      to read as follows:
          The clerk shall issue subpoenas for witnesses in such contested
      election at the request of either party, which shall be served by the
      sheriff or constable, as other subpoenas, and the superior court shall
      have full power to issue attachments to compel the attendance of
      witnesses who shall have been duly subpoenaed to attend if they fail to
      do so.
          The court shall meet at the time and place designated to determine
      such contested election by the rules of law and evidence governing the
      determination of questions of law and fact, so far as the same may be
      applicable, and may dismiss the proceedings if the statement of the
      cause or causes of contest is insufficient, or for want of prosecution.
      After hearing the proofs and allegations of the parties, the court
      shall pronounce judgment in the premises, either confirming or
      annulling and setting aside such election, according to the law and
      right of the case.
          If in any such case it (({- shall -})) appear{+ s +} that another
      person than the one returned has the highest number of legal votes,
      (({- said -})) {+ the +} court shall declare such person duly elected{+
      , consistent with the requirements of instant runoff voting contained
      in chapter 29.-- RCW (sections 1 through 9 of this act) +}.

          {+ NEW SECTION. +}  Sec. 11.  SECTION CAPTIONS.  Captions used in
      this act are not part of the law.

          {+ NEW SECTION. +}  Sec. 12.  SEVERABILITY.  If any provision of
      this act or its application to any person or circumstance is held
      invalid, the remainder of the act or the application of the provision
      to other persons or circumstances is not affected.

          {+ NEW SECTION. +}  Sec. 13.  Sections 1 through 9 of this act
      constitute a new chapter in Title 29 RCW.

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