SECTION 1. Chapter 54 of the General Laws is hereby amended by inserting after section 141 the following section:-
Section 141A. (a) Upon a vacancy, by unforeseen reasons, in the office of senator in the general court, resulting from a senator’s resignation, removal, appointment to a federal or state office, death or permanent incapacitation, the senate president shall issue precepts to the legislative bodies for the municipalities comprising the senator’s district, appointing such time as the senate may order for a special election to fill the vacancy; provided, that the senate president shall issue notice of the date of the special election within 5 days after the vacancy occurs; and provided further, that for purposes of this section, the term “special election” shall mean an election scheduled outside of the usual election cycle to fill a senate office that has become vacant before the incumbent has finished the term. This excludes vacancies that occur in accordance with Senate Rule 5C. A senator elected to fill a vacancy under this section shall hold the office for the remainder of the unexpired term.
(b) All special elections under this section in which there are not less than 2 persons seeking to fill a vacancy shall use ranked choice voting for determining the person receiving the highest number of votes; provided, that for purposes of this section, the term “ranked choice voting” shall mean the method of voting providing voters the ability to rank candidates in order of preference by indicating a first, second and later choice.
(c) Pursuant to ranked choice voting under this section, tabulation of votes must proceed in rounds. In each round, the number of active preferences for each candidate that has not been defeated must be counted. Each ballot, which ranks a candidate that has not been defeated, does not contain votes ranking more than 1 candidate at the highest ranking and does not contain not less than 2 sequential blank rankings before the highest ranking, counts as 1 active preference for its highest-ranked candidate for that round; provided, however, that ballots that do not rank any candidate that has not been defeated, rank more than 1 candidate at the highest ranking or contain not less than 2 sequential blank rankings before the highest ranking will not be counted.
The candidate that receives a majority of the votes shall be declared elected; provided, however, that if no candidate receives a majority of the votes, and there are more than 2 candidates that have not been defeated, the last-place candidate, or candidates, is defeated and a new round begins, reallocating all original votes for the eliminated candidate, or candidates, in the prior round to the candidate that was identified as the highest-ranked preference of the candidates remaining; provided further, that this process will continue until 1 candidate receives a majority of votes and is declared elected.
(d) If not less than 2 candidates are tied for last place, the last-place candidate who was credited with the fewest active preferences in the prior round shall be declared defeated. If not less than 2 candidates that are tied for last place were also tied in the prior round, the last-place candidate who was credited with the fewest active preferences in the second-prior round. This principle shall be applied successively as many times as may be necessary, a tie shown in any prior round being decided by referring to the standing of the tied candidates in the round immediately preceding the round in which the tie exists. Any tie not otherwise provided for shall be decided by lot.
(e) Where a vacancy in the office of senator in the general court under this section results without valid justification as determined by the Senate President and could have been avoided until the end of their term, the person vacating said office shall contribute to the funding of the special election to fill said vacancy; provided, however, that a person will not be obligated to contribute to the funding of a special election under this subsection based on extenuating circumstances, such as declining health or family obligations, as determined on a case-by-case basis.
The information contained in this website is for general information purposes only. The General Court provides this information as a public service and while we endeavor to keep the data accurate and current to the best of our ability, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the website or the information contained on the website for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk.