SECTION 1. Section 44A of chapter 43 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2014 Official Edition, is hereby amended by inserting after the word “inclusive,”, in line 7, the words:- and section 103R of chapter 54,.
SECTION 2: Section 77 of chapter 54 of the General Laws is hereby amended by striking the phrase “marking a cross (X) in the square at the right of the name of each candidate for whom he intends to vote” and inserting in place thereof the following phrase: “marking the ballot in a manner prescribed by the state secretary”.
SECTION 3: Said chapter 54 is hereby further amended by inserting after section 103Q the following section:-
Section 103R. (a) Notwithstanding any other general or special law to the contrary, in any city or town that accepts this section, a local election may be conducted using ranked choice voting in which voters rank the candidates for an office in order of preference. Ranked choice voting elections may be used for elections with a single winning candidate or multiple winning candidates. Ranked choice voting elections shall be tabulated in rounds using the single transferable vote method. Winning thresholds shall be calculated based on the number of countable votes and the number of seats to be filled.
General provisions for a single-winner election and a multiple-winner election shall be specified by ordinance or by-law; provided, however, that a voter’s lower ranked choice shall not impact the likelihood of a voter’s higher ranked choice of being elected. The ordinance or by-law shall be enacted by the municipality’s legislative body and the body shall request the input of the registrar of voters and town clerk or city election commissioners. The ordinance shall specify, at a minimum: (i) the method of calculating the winning threshold; (ii) how candidates with the fewest votes shall be eliminated before a subsequent round of the tally; (iii) how a vote for eliminated candidates shall be transferred to the voter's next valid choice; (iv) how a tie shall be resolved; (v) how a ballot that skipped a ranking or is otherwise mismarked shall be counted; and (vi) how a vote above the winning threshold for a candidate shall be transferred to an alternate choices in a multiple-winner election. Preliminary elections for local offices shall not be held in a city or town that has accepted this section.
(b) This section may be accepted by: (i) approval of a ballot measure submitted to the voters by the governing body of the city or town at a regular or special election; (ii) ordinance or by-law; or (iii) charter amendment.
(c) A city or town that accepts this section shall conduct a voter education and outreach campaign to familiarize voters with ranked choice voting.
(d) The ballot shall not interfere with a voter's ability to rank at least 1 write-in candidate.
(e) Not sooner than 4 years after acceptance of this section, a city or town that has accepted this section may return to its prior voting method by: (i) approval of a ballot measure submitted to the voters by the governing body of the city or town at a regular or special election; (ii) ordinance or by-law; or (iii) charter amendment.
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