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State lawmakers table runoff-voting bill

 

A proposal to impose "instant runoff" voting in county elections has been tabled at the state Legislature this year.

House and Senate members decided late Thursday night to defer the measure.

"We got some late information on the cost," said Rep. Gil Keith-Agaran, the House Judiciary Chairman and lead negotiator on the bill. "I think we’d like to take this up during the interim and consider maybe bringing it back next year."

The Honolulu City Council voted unanimously last week in favor of a resolution urging the state to refrain from imposing the measure, citing cost concerns.

Officials estimated the system would cost at least $750,000 to upgrade voting machines and ballots, run tests and develop a voter education campaign. The bill did not include an appropriation, and City Council members said they expected the cost of the upgrades to be placed on the city.

House Bill 638 would require all county races statewide without primary elections to use a second-choice voting system, in which a voter’s choices are ranked, and if no candidate receives a majority, votes are stripped from the bottom candidates and allocated among a voter’s other choices until one receives a majority.

Supporters argued it would end so-called "spoiled" elections, in which a candidate in a crowded field can win with less than a majority of the vote.

 

 

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