2021 Regular Session
To: Apportionment and Elections; Constitution
By: Representative McCarty
AN ACT TO PROVIDE FOR ELECTIONS BY RANKED-CHOICE VOTING FOR UNITED STATES SENATOR, UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE, STATEWIDE ELECTED OFFICIALS, STATE SENATOR AND REPRESENTATIVE; TO PROVIDE DEFINITIONS; TO PROVIDE THE PROCEDURES FOR HOW TO DETERMINE A WINNER USING THE RANKED-CHOICE VOTING METHOD OF VOTING; TO PROVIDE THE PROCEDURES IN THE CASE OF A TIE; TO PROVIDE THAT THE SECRETARY OF STATE SHALL CONDUCT AN EVALUATION OF IMPLEMENTATION OF RANKED-CHOICE VOTING FOR ELECTIONS FOR THE OFFICES OF UNITED STATES SENATOR, UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE, STATEWIDE ELECTED OFFICIALS, STATE SENATOR AND STATE REPRESENTATIVE, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, IDENTIFICATION OF STATUTORY CONFLICTS; TO PROVIDE THAT THE EVALUATION MUST INCLUDE AN ESTIMATE OF THE COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH THE IMPLEMENTATION OF RANKED-CHOICE VOTING; TO PROVIDE THAT NO LATER THAN THIRTY DAYS AFTER THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THIS ACT, THE SECRETARY OF STATE SHALL SUBMIT A REPORT TO THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES APPORTIONMENT AND ELECTIONS COMMITTEE AND THE SENATE ELECTIONS COMMITTEE, INCLUDING RECOMMENDED LEGISLATION, FOR THE ADMINISTRATION OF RANKED-CHOICE VOTING FOR CERTAIN ELECTIONS; TO REQUIRE THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES APPORTIONMENT AND ELECTIONS COMMITTEE AND THE SENATE ELECTIONS COMMITTEE TO SUBMIT LEGISLATION BASED ON THE SECRETARY OF STATE'S REPORT TO THE 2023 REGULAR SESSION OF THE MISSISSIPPI LEGISLATURE; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. For the purposes of this section, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings in this section unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:
(a) "Elections determined by ranked-choice voting" means United States Senator, United States Representative, statewide elected officials, State Senator and State Representative, including any nominations by primary election, for the offices.
(b) "Ranked–choice voting" means the method of casting and tabulating votes in which voters rank candidates in order of preference, 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.
(c) "Batch elimination" means the simultaneous defeat of multiple candidates for whom it is mathematically impossible to be elected.
(d) "Continuing ballot" means a ballot that is not an exhausted ballot.
(e) "Continuing candidate" means a candidate who has not been defeated.
(f) "Exhausted ballot" means a ballot that does not rank any continuing candidate, contains an overvote at the highest continuing ranking or contains two (2) or more sequential skipped rankings before its highest continuing ranking.
(g) "Highest continuing ranking" means the highest ranking on a voter's ballot for a continuing candidate.
candidate" means the candidate with the fewest votes in a round of the
ranked-choice voting tabulation.
(i) "Mathematically impossible to be elected," with respect to a candidate, means either:
(i) The candidate cannot be elected because the candidate's vote total in a round of the ranked-choice voting tabulation plus all votes that could possibly be transferred to the candidate in future rounds from candidates with fewer votes or an equal number of votes would not be enough to surpass the candidate with the next-higher vote total in the round; or
(ii) The candidate has a lower vote total than a candidate described in subparagraph (i) of this paragraph (i).
(j) "Overvote" means a circumstance in which a voter has ranked more than one (1) candidate at the same ranking.
(k) "Ranking" means the number assigned on a ballot by a voter to a candidate to express the voter's preference for that candidate. Ranking number one is the highest ranking, ranking number 2 is the next-highest ranking and so on.
(l) "Round" means an instance of the sequence of voting tabulation steps established in subsection (2) of this act.
(m) "Skipped ranking" means a circumstance in which a voter has left a ranking blank and ranks a candidate at a subsequent ranking.
SECTION 2. (1) For elections determined by ranked-choice voting, the ballot must be simple and easy to understand and allow a voter to rank candidates for an office in order of preference. A voter may include no more than one (1) write-in candidate among that voter's ranked choices for each office.
(2) The Secretary of State shall immediately certify the nomination of each person nominated by the primary election.
SECTION 3. (1) Except as otherwise provided in subsections (2) and (3) of this section, the following procedures shall be used to determine the winner in an election for an office elected by ranked-choice voting. Tabulation must proceed in rounds. In each round, the number of votes for each continuing candidate must be counted. Each continuing ballot counts as one (1) vote for its highest-ranked continuing candidate for that round. Exhausted ballots are not counted for any continuing candidate. The round then ends with one (1) of the following two (2) potential outcomes:
(a) If there are two (2) or fewer continuing candidates, the candidate with the most votes is declared the winner of the election.
(b) If there are more than two (2) continuing candidates, the last-place candidate is defeated and a new round begins.
(2) A tie under this section between candidates for the most votes in the final round or a tie between last-place candidates in any round must be decided by lot, fairly drawn, and the candidate chosen by lot is defeated. The result of the tie resolution must be recorded and reused in the event of a recount. Election officials may resolve prospective ties between candidates before the election.
(3) Modification of a ranked-choice voting ballot and tabulation is permitted in accordance with the following:
(a) The number of allowable rankings may be limited to no fewer than six (6).
(b) Two (2) or more candidates may be defeated simultaneously by batch elimination in any round of tabulation.
(4) For all statutory and constitutional provisions in the state pertaining to the rights of political parties, the number of votes cast for a party's candidate for an office elected by ranked-choice voting is the number of votes credited to that candidate after the initial counting in the first round as provided in subsection (1) of this section.
SECTION 4. The Secretary of State shall conduct an evaluation of implementation of ranked-choice voting for elections for the offices of United States Senator, United States Representative, statewide elected officials, State Senator and State Representative, including, but not limited to, identification of statutory conflicts between House Concurrent Resolution 29, 2021 Regular Session, and relevant provisions of the Mississippi Code of 1972. The evaluation must include an estimate of the costs associated with the implementation of ranked-choice voting. No later than thirty (30) days after the effective date of this act, the Secretary of State shall submit a report to the House of Representatives Apportionment and Elections Committee and the Senate Elections Committee, including recommended legislation, for the administration of ranked-choice voting for the elections as described in this act. The House of Representatives Apportionment and Elections Committee and the Senate Elections Committee shall submit legislation based on the report described in this section to the 2023 Regular Session of the Mississippi Legislature.
SECTION 5. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after ratification by the electorate of House Concurrent Resolution No. 29, 2021 Regular Session.