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 and our support for the Municipal and School Board Voting Options Act. RCV allows voters to rank the candidates on the ballot in order of preference. This small change—from selecting to ranking—has potentially profound benefits for our democracy.
In addition to permitting people to express all their preferences through ranking candidates, when used to elect a single winner, RCV helps ensure majority rule, reduces the “spoiler dynamic” in multi-candidate races, and lowers election costs in those municipalities that currently require runoff elections if no majority winner is produced in the first election. In its multi-winner form, RCV represents voters more proportionally and reduces the number of “wasted” votes—votes that do no help elect a candidate—which ensures more voters are represented by a candidate they voted for.
All forms of RCV reduce the need for people to vote strategically and insincerely for a compromise candidate they think can win over the candidate they prefer. We believe that RCV results in more positive, issue-oriented campaigning 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. We believe RCV is the best way to bring people to the voting booth because voters are more likely to participate if their votes are less likely to be wasted and they are not forced to strategically 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, be conducted using Ranked-Choice Voting (RCV). RCV is an election method in which every voter gets one vote. Voters rank candidates in order of their preference, the ballots are counted in rounds and votes are distributed to candidates according to the preferences marked on each ballot, in accordance with the process established by the voters. If a single office holder is to be elected, such as a mayor or council member representing a single-winner district, votes are counted using the Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) method. If there are multiple seats to be elected, such as county board members elected at-large concurrently, the voters have the discretion to elect each seat in a separate IRV election, or prescribe a single, transferable vote (STV) 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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