Chapter 386


Enacted 07/13/11





     Introduced By: Representatives Blazejewski, Morgan, Chippendale, McLaughlin,

                               and Bennett

     Date Introduced: May 19, 2011


It is enacted by the General Assembly as follows:


     SECTION 1. Title 17 of the General Laws entitled "ELECTIONS" is hereby amended by

adding thereto the following chapter:





     17-29-1. Short title. -- This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the "Voter

Choice Act."


     17-29-2. Legislative declaration. -- (a) The general assembly hereby finds and declares


     (1) Majority rule is a fundamental principle of representative democracy, and the state's

election laws should uphold and facilitate this principle.

     (2) In an election where more than two (2) candidates are running for an office, the

candidate who receives a plurality of the votes may actually be opposed by the majority of voters.

     (3) The state's current voting method limits voters' choices and contributes to lower voter


     (4) It is in the public interest to examine Rhode Island's voting method and consider

comprehensive reforms that would expand the choices realistically available to voters, increase

participation, address the concerns of the major political parties, save money, and increase


     (b) The general assembly further finds and declares that instant runoff voting and other

advanced voting methods have the potential to:

     (1) Expand the range of choices available to voters by allowing them to vote for

candidates of minor political parties or unaffiliated candidates without fear of giving an

advantage to the candidate they least prefer;

     (2) Reduce both election administration costs and campaign expenditures by combining

primary and general elections; and

     (3) Promote campaigns that are more positive and focused on issues because candidates

will seek to appeal to opponents' supporters as a second choice.


     17-29-3. Voter choice study commission - established - definitions. -- (a) The voter

choice study commission is hereby established for the purpose of studying instant runoff voting

and other advanced voting methods.

     (b) As used in this chapter, unless the context otherwise requires, "Advanced voting

method" means a voting method that allows an elector to indicate a preference for more than one

candidate in an election and that determines the winner of the election by majority vote.

"Advanced voting method" includes, but is not limited to, instant runoff voting, approval voting,

range voting, and proportional voting.

     (c) The voter choice study commission shall consist of fourteen (14) members selected as


     (1) Seven (7) members to be appointed by the speaker of the house, no more than five (5)

of whom shall be from the same political party, and at least three (3) of whom shall be the clerk

of a city or town of this state;

     (2) Seven (7) members to be appointed by the president of the senate, no more than five

(5) of whom shall be from the same political party, at least two (2) of whom shall be the clerk of a

city or town of this state; and

     (3) Provided, that all members of the study commission shall be registered voters of this

state at the time of their selection and at all times while they remain on said study group.

     (d) Members of the voter choice study group shall be appointed no later than August 1,


     (e) The voter choice study commission shall:

     (1) Study advanced voting methods;

     (2) Analyze the requirements for implementing advanced voting methods, including

public education, voting equipment and technology, ballot designs, the costs of conducting the

pilot project established by this chapter and using advanced voting methods in elections for state

and federal offices, and savings due to the elimination of primary elections;

     (3) Determine the level of public support for a change in voting methods;

     (4) Review the experience of other states in conducting elections using advanced voting


     (5) Recommend statutory changes to implement advanced voting methods in elections for

state and federal offices to be held in the state in 2014;

     (6) Make recommendations on making all voting systems used in the state compatible

with advanced voting methods by 2014, including a review of the availability and costs of

necessary voting equipment;

     (7) Make recommendations to the governing bodies and designated election officials of

political subdivisions of the state on preparing to conduct an election using an advanced voting

methods; and

     (8) Consider changes to the state's statutes governing access to the ballot for presidential


     (f) The voter choice study commission shall present a report on its work to the general

assembly, the governor, and the secretary of state no later than January 4, 2012.

     (g) The director of research of the legislative council and the director of the office of

legislative legal services shall provide staff assistance to the voter choice study commission.

     (h) The members of the voter choice study commission shall serve without compensation;

except that the members shall be reimbursed for necessary expenses incurred in the performance

of their duties.


     SECTION 2. This act shall take effect upon passage.



LC02600/SUB A