A Bill to be Entitled: (followed immediately by the Bill Analysis and Fiscal Impact Statement)
Creating a Proper Framework for Rank-Choice Voting to be run in all Florida Counties with Instant Run Off Primaries for Each Political Party.
Section s.101.019 F.S. text shall be stricken, and replaced with:
- The Florida Department of State and Division of Elections shall ensure that each county has the proper software enabled on their current voting equipment to ensure a proper and protected instant run off primary for each political party. Voters choose the candidate that best represents their personal views and make second or third choices in the order of their preference. There will be one primary election that determines a majority of registered party voters for each race. The process will ensure that a majority of the voters registered with that party put forth their candidate for the General Election. The Florida Department of State and Division of Elections shall create rules to ensure that counties and other voting entities and municipalities are issued, and have installed, the proper software approved by the Department for use on Department approved voting equipment.
- Each County Supervisor of Elections Office shall ensure that voters can make just one choice on a ballot as in past elections, but each voter is empowered to make more choices to ensure that if their first candidate does not receive enough votes, then their preference on other candidates will be registered in the final tally. Instant Run-off voting ensures that a majority of voters registered in their party of choice, approve a candidate without the cost of multiple run-off elections. The Supervisors of Elections’ office in each county is authorized to put a two year pause on implementation of the law in their voting districts if they determine that they have not informed enough voters on how to take advantage of their freedom to rank candidates. Support for a two-year pause can also be demonstrated by a simple majority of voters in a district by referendum.
- Municipalities are provided control over Ranked-Choice Voting as provided by s. 166.031 F.S. regarding Charter Amendments. The governing body of a municipality are bound by section 166.031 to allow registered voters to opt out of ranked-choice voting, for two years, with a simple majority by referendum.
- To be enacted upon the Governor’s signature.
(As of 6-15-2022)
BILL ANALYSIS AND FISCAL IMPACT STATEMENT
This bill and this bill analysis are provided as the next step in establishing a framework for local government to use their existing software and machines for Rank-Choice Voting in accordance with the Florida Department of State – Division of Elections.
This Bill provides for the Department of State to direct its Division of Elections to inform and give formal approval to all 67 Counties to use Ranked-Choice Voting (RCV) which implements Instant-Runoff Voting (IRV) in County Primary Elections to achieve a majority candidate in each election result.
Those requesting this bill are non-partisan and together agree on the following primary goals and necessary considerations. It is self-evident that government deriving it’s just powers from the consent of the governed require:
- Most importantly a political party should have at least 50% of its registered voters demonstrate their support in the primary for a candidate as their 1st, 2nd, or even 3rd choice to be put forth to a General Election.
- Primary elections must produce a candidate for which each political party can demonstrate a majority of their parties support. Run-off elections are currently used to reach a majority. Existing voting equipment and software will be used to hold Ranked Choice Instant Run-Off elections (IRV) by having voters rank their first, second or if needed third choice, in one primary election.
- Cost savings and reduced voter fatigue from multiple run-off primary elections that use ranked choice voting to achieve and demonstrate a parties majority vote.
- The Florida Division of Elections will ensure that County Supervisors of Elections Offices understand that existing machines and software are already RCV ready and are approved.
- The cost saving and simplicity of a single primary election in all 67 counties.
- Each political party puts forth their most accepted candidate for the General Election in November.
II. Present Situation:
Party primary elections in the State of Florida put forth candidates that have not received a majority of their parties’ approval. The framers of the U.S. Constitution made it clear that “The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States,” with their intention that those members receive broad and deep support by an informed public (Article I, Section. 2, Constitution of The United States.).
Primaries for the U.S. House and Florida House and Senate produce a candidate to represent a voting district that leans heavily towards one party or another. In almost every case the General Election confirms that Primary Choice to represent the voters of that district.
General elections do not allow voters to make a first choice of the party candidate they prefer, and a second strategic choice for a candidate they find acceptable, taking away their constitutional right to demonstrate their preferences.
Multiple primaries cost counties and municipalities millions of dollars, and each subsequent primary produces voter fatigue that results in fewer voters choosing the elected representative.
Ranked choice decision making has existed for over a hundred years as a mathematical proof that explained how people make common choices in their daily lives. Several Florida municipalities encountered confusion between a majority of voters wanting to use ranked choice voting, and their Supervisors of Elections offices, who did not know if they could use the improved tabulation method. Despite a majority of voters passing referendums to use ranked choice voting, the confusion is not settled.
Legislators put a pause on ranked choice voting this year, as a small section of a large 25+ section SB 524 elections bill. The pause voids past citizen referendums and creates the opportunity for RCV to be structured properly by the Department of State, Florida Division of Elections.
III. Effect of Proposed Changes:
This bill empowers the Florida Department of State to direct the Division of Elections to require a majority result in all 67 Florida Counties. The bill directs the Division of Elections to continue to use existing voting equipment already approved with the existing software that already has a ranked choice voting option. The Division of Elections must reassure the County Supervisors of Elections that they can in fact use ranked-choice instant run off voting to produce a majority result while saving the municipalities the tax-payer expense of multiple elections.
If the County Supervisors of Elections office is not prepared, the bill provides: “The Supervisors of Elections’ office in each county is authorized to put a two year pause on implementation of the law in their voting districts if they determine that they have not informed enough voters on how to take advantage of their freedom to rank candidates. Support for a two-year pause can also be demonstrated by a simple majority of voters in a district by referendum.”
The bill makes reference to existing municipal control over ranked choice voting as provided by s.166.031 F.S. regarding Charter Amendments.
IV. Constitutional Issues:
A. Municipality/County Mandates Restrictions:
Not applicable. Bills that affect state or local elections are exempt from the requirements of Art. VII, s. 18 of the Florida Constitution.
B. Public Records/Open Meeting Issues:
C. Trust Funds Restrictions:
D. State Tax or Fee Increases:
E. Other Constitutional Issues:
V. Fiscal Impact Statement:
A. Tax/Fee Issues:
B. Private Sector Impact:
C. Government Sector Impact:
Runoff elections are held for many local elected offices when no candidate wins more than 50% of the vote on Election Day.
Gainesville, Miami Beach, Hialeah, Sunny Isles, and Lake Worth Beach are just some of the cities that paid for run-off elections in the 2000 election cycle.
One runoff for an at-large council seat in Jacksonville was projected to cost the city $1.2 million
A Miami-Dade County runoff for county mayor cost approximately $4 million.
In Gainesville, a runoff election cost taxpayers about $400,000.
For smaller towns, election officials commonly estimate runoffs cost approximately $100,000 per election.
Low voter turnout in run-off elections concerns government officials. Longer campaign seasons caused by run-off elections have numerus costs including clean-up from additional campaign materials.
VI. Technical Deficiencies:
VII. Related Issues:
VIII. Statutes Affected:
This bill substantially amends s. 101.019, F.S..
IX. Additional Information:
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