Sarasota, FL Approves Instant Runoff Voting for City Commission Elections

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Sarasota, FL, US

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Type: Charter Amendment

Status: Adopted by voters on 11/6/07

Vote: In Favor - 77% Opposed - 23%

Source File: http://www.sarasotagov.com/InsideCityGovernment/Content/CAC/PDF/Elections/07-4719.pdf

Text:

Art. IX, Sec. 5. Elections. Be it enacted by the people of Sarasota that this section is amended as follows:

(a) Purpose. The purpose of this section is to describe the method by which all city commissioners will be elected. To help ensure they are elected by majority vote, in an efficient and cost effective process that fosters broad and diverse participation. Instant Runoff Voting shall be required for all elections.

(b) Definitions.
"Instant Runoff Voting" (IRV) means a method of casting and tabulating votes that simulates the ballot counts which would occur if all voters participated in a series of runoff elections with one candidate eliminated after each round of counting. The IRV method allows voters to rank the candidates in order of preference.

"Advancing candidate,' means a candidate who has not been eliminated.

"Continuing ballot" means a ballot that is not an exhausted ballot.

"Exhausted ballot" means a ballot on which there are no choices marked other than choices for eliminated candidates.

(c) District seats.

(1) When two (2) or more persons qualify as candidates for one (1) of the three (3) district seats on the city commission, the qualifiers shall have their MITES placed on the ballot for the city election to be held on the second Tuesday in March The initial round of counting shall be a count of the first choices marked on each ballot.
(2) If no candidate receives a majority of first choices, there shall be a second round of counting. The candidate with the fewest number of votes shall be eliminated, and all the continuing ballots shall be recounted. Each continuing ballot shall be counted as one vote for that ballot's highest ranked advancing candidate.
(3) If no candidate receives a majority of votes of continuing ballots at the second round of counting there shall be a third round of counting. The candidate with the fewest number of votes shall be eliminated. and all the continuing ballots shall be recounted. Each continuing ballot shall be counted as one vote for that ballot's highest ranked advancing candidate.
(4) The process of eliminating the candidates with the fewest number of votes and recounting all the continuing ballots shall continue until one candidate receives a majority of the votes of continuing ballots in a round. The candidate who receives a majority of the votes of continuing ballots in a round shall be deemed and declared to be elected.
(5) When a ballot becomes an exhausted ballot it shall not be counted in that round or any subsequent round.
(6) When only one (1) person qualifies as a candidate for a district seat on the city commission, the name of such person shall riot appear on the ballot, and such person shall be declared elected and shall assume office at the same time and in the same manner as if elected in the regular city election.

(d) At-large seats.

(1) When three (3) or more persons qualify as a candidate for the office of city commissioner for the two (2) at-large seats on the city commission the qualifiers shall have their names placed on the ballot for the city election held on the second Tuesday in March. The initial round of counting shall be a count of the first choices marked on each ballot.
(2) If no candidate receives a majority of first choices, there shall be a second round of counting. The candidate with the fewest number of votes shall be eliminated, and all he continuing ballots shall be recounted. Each continuing ballot shall be counted as one vote for that ballot's highest ranked advancing candidate.
(3) If no candidate receives a majority of votes of continuing ballots at the second round of counting, there shall be a third round of counting. The candidate with the fewest number of votes shall be eliminated. and all the continuing ballots shall be recounted. Each continuing ballot shall be counted as one vote for that ballot's highest ranked advancing candidate.
(4) The process of eliminating the candidates with the fewest number of votes and recounting all the continuing ballots shall continue until one candidate receives a majority of the votes of continuing ballots in a round. The candidate who receives a majority of the votes of continuing ballots in a round shall be deemed and declared to be elected to the first at-large seat.
(5) All ballots shall be recounted for the second at-large seat. Ballots shall be tallied excluding the declared winner of the first seat. Any choices for the declared winner of the first at-large seat shall count toward the ballot's next highest choice.
(6) Counting shall continue in the same manner as the first at-large seat. The candidate who receives a majority of the votes of continuing ballots in a round shall be deemed and declared to be elected to the second at-large seat.
(7) When a ballot becomes an exhausted ballot it shall not be counted in that round or any subsequent round.
(8) When only one (1) or two (2) persons qualify as candidates for an at-large seat on the city commission, the names of such persons shall not appear on the ballot, and such persons shall be declared elected and shall assume office at the same time and in the same manner as if elected in the regular city election.

(e) Commencement and length of term. Persons elected to the city commission shall assume office on the third day following the second Tuesday in April. Each person elected shall hold office for four (4) years.

(f) Additional provisions.

(1) Sample ballots illustrating voting procedures shall be posted in or near all voting booths, and shall be included in the instruction packet for absentee ballots. The city clerk shall ensure ballots are simple and easy to understand. Before the first election to be held using IRV, the city clerk shall conduct a voter education campaign to familiarize voters with the IRV process.
(2) Skipped and duplicate rankings: If a voter skips a ranking, the ballot shall be counted for the highest ranked advancing candidate in each round of counting. If a voter gives an equal rank to two or more candidates, the ballot shall be declared exhausted when such multiple rankings are reached.
(3) Write-in votes: The ballot shall provide the option for the voter to write-in and rank one individual not listed on the ballot.
(4) Ties: In case of a tie between two or more candidates at any stage of the vote tally, the candidate to be eliminated first shall be selected by drawing lots or other equally random selection method.
(5) Facilitating ballot counting: If the total number of votes of the two or more candidates credited with the lowest number of votes is less than the number of votes credited to the candidate with the next highest number of votes, those candidates with the lowest number of votes may be eliminated simultaneously.
(6) Effective Date: This section shall go into effect within two years of the date the State of Florida certifies IRV software that is compatible with existing voting machinery used in the city of Sarasota, and shall remain in effect for all subsequent elections thereafter. Nothing in this section shall be construed to obligate the City of Sarasota to initiate or pursue the state certification process.
(7) The city commission may waive any part of section 5(0(2-5) if the state-certified software does not meet the criteria defined in that section. Once the state certifies software that is capable of carrying out the function(s) for which a waiver was sought, provided that software is still compatible with existing equipment, the waiver shall no longer be authorized.

(Note: Source file also contains enabling ordinance.)

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