PETITION IN SUPPORT OF RANKED-CHOICE VOTING

 

TO ELECT ALL COUNTY AND LOCAL OFFICES IF APPROVED BY THE VOTERS

 

To Governor Murphy and All State Legislative Representatives:  

We, the undersigned, registered voters of the State of New Jersey, hereby seek to express to you our support for Ranked-Choice Voting (RCV) as an election method to enhance our democracy by permitting voters to require that their locally elected county or municipal officials be elected by a majority of the voters cast.    

RCV allows voters to rank the candidates on the ballot in order of preference, requires that candidates win with a majority of votes cast, and eliminates the notion of a “wasted” vote that currently exists when a voter considers choosing a candidate that is not one of the two major political parties.   In addition to permitting people to express all their preferences through ranking candidates and protecting majority rule by reducing the spoiler dynamic in multi-candidate races, we believe that RCV results in more positive, issue-oriented campaigning, lowers election costs in those municipalities that currently require runoff elections if no majority winner is produced in the first election, and will increase voter turnout.  This last goal is paramount to those of us seeking to engage disaffected, otherwise marginal communities in the political process.  RCV is the best way to bring people to the voting booth because we believe voters are more likely to participate if they are certain that their vote is not viewed as wasted and they are not forced to choose between two candidates, but rather may evaluate the strength of several candidates in relation to one another.  

We accordingly request that you enact a statute that reads as follows: 

Notwithstanding any provision of Title 19 of the Revised  Statutes, or any other law, rule, or regulation to the contrary, all local government units are able to adopt through ordinance, proposed by either the relevant government body or a voter initiated petition, and approved by the voters through referendum,  the requirement that the election (other than the primary election) for the offices of Mayor or a member of a municipal governing body, a member of a Board of County Commissioners, a member of an elected school board, a member of a fire district or other locally elected office currently existing or hereinafter created, shall be conducted using Ranked-Choice Voting (RCV).  RCV is an election method in which voters rank candidates in order of their preference, the ballots are counted in rounds and the votes and fractions thereof are distributed to candidates according to the preferences marked on each ballot, in accordance with the process established by the voters.  Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) is required if there is a single person to be elected.  If there are multiple seats to be elected, the voters have the discretion to hold concurrent IRV elections, but may also prescribe a single, transferable vote method, otherwise known as proportional RCV.

An ordinance, initiated by the voters, for changing the election rules in the afore-described manner, for any county, municipal or other locally elected office, shall follow the general format and signature requirements set forth in the Optional Municipal Charter Law (“Faulkner Act”), N.J.S.A. 40:69A-184 and 186, regardless of the form of government adopted by the county or municipality.  Such petition shall be submitted to the municipal or county clerk and must be signed by “the legal voters equal in number to at least 10% of the total votes cast in the municipality [or county] at the last election at which members of the General Assembly were elected.”

 

Sponsored and Circulated by Voter Choice NJ, a nonprofit organization seeking to promote RCV. 

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