Home > 106th Congressional Bills > H.R. 5294 (ih) To require the Federal Communications Commission to completely and accurately fulfill the support requirements for universal service for high cost areas, and for other purposes. [Introduced in House] ...

H.R. 5294 (ih) To require the Federal Communications Commission to completely and accurately fulfill the support requirements for universal service for high cost areas, and for other purposes. [Introduced in House] ...


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108th CONGRESS
  2d Session
                                H. R. 5293

To require States to conduct general elections for Federal office using 
  an instant runoff voting system, to direct the Election Assistance 
      Commission to make grants to States to defray the costs of 
          administering such systems, and for other purposes.


_______________________________________________________________________


                    IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

                            October 8, 2004

   Mr. Jackson of Illinois introduced the following bill; which was 
           referred to the Committee on House Administration

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 A BILL


 
To require States to conduct general elections for Federal office using 
  an instant runoff voting system, to direct the Election Assistance 
      Commission to make grants to States to defray the costs of 
          administering such systems, and for other purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Majority Vote Act of 2004''.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

    Congress finds the following:
            (1) In some general elections the majority of voters split 
        their votes between two similar candidates letting a third 
        candidate, supported only by a minority of the electorate, win 
        the election, thus denying the will of a majority of the 
        voters.
            (2) In other general elections the majority of voters split 
        their votes between two dissimilar candidates, letting a third 
        candidate, supported by an even smaller minority of the 
        electorate, determine the election victor, and again denying 
        the will of a majority of the voters.
            (3) The simple plurality winner system used in most general 
        elections for Federal office creates an incentive for 
        candidates to engage in negative campaigning.
            (4) The principle of majority rule is violated when the 
        majority does not choose the winner of an election, and denies 
        the winner a mandate to govern.
            (5) A simple solution to this problem of non majority 
        winners is to require the winner of an election to earn a 
        majority of votes.
            (6) Instant runoff voting, as used in Utah Republican Party 
        primaries, Ireland, Australia, and London, requires the winner 
        of an election to earn a majority of votes. Voters rank 
        candidates in case their favorite candidate is eliminated, and 
        the votes of the candidate's supporters count for their second 
        choice in a runoff round. This process continues until one 
        candidate earns a majority of votes.
            (7) By allowing voters to rank candidates, rather than 
        choose just one, candidates are encouraged to engage in 
        positive campaigning in order to receive a higher ranking from 
        their opponents' supporters.
            (8) There is increased interest in instant runoff voting. 
        For example, the system has been approved for use by voters in 
        San Francisco, California, beginning with the 2004 municipal 
        elections. In 1999, the New Mexico Senate passed legislation 
        providing for a ballot measure under which voters would be 
        allowed to implement instant runoff voting for Presidential 
        elections. In Vermont, legislation to enact instant runoff 
        voting for statewide offices, including the Presidential race, 
        has been endorsed by Common Cause, the League of Women Voters, 
        and the Grange. Additionally, the legislatures of States such 
        as Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington in 2001 debated 
        legislation to enact instant runoff voting for Presidential 
        elections, and the Speaker of the California Assembly has 
        introduced a bill to implement instant runoff voting in 
        elections to fill vacancies in Congress.
            (9) In order to conduct an instant runoff election, voting 
        equipment must be compatible with ballots that allow voters to 
        rank candidates.
            (10) A majority of states currently conduct two-round 
        runoff elections in some of their statewide, county, and 
        municipal elections. Two-round elections cost the states 
        millions of dollars each year and result in severe drop-offs in 
        voter turnout. Voting equipment that is compatible with ranked 
        ballots will give states, counties, and municipalities the 
        option of saving millions of dollars and boosting voter turnout 
        by consolidating two-round runoffs into one election.
            (11) Consistent with the national underinvestment in voting 
        equipment, much of the Nation's voting equipment is not 
        currently compatible with ranked ballots.
            (12) There are currently no Federal mandatory minimum 
        standards for voting equipment. Although the Federal Election 
        Commission has promulgated voluntary standards, these voluntary 
        standards do not include compatibility with ranked ballots.
            (13) The operation of our current voting and election 
        system is run by approximately 13,000 separate and unequally 
        administered voting jurisdictions.
            (14) National polls have shown that the American people 
        support a voting system that is unitary.

SEC. 3. REQUIRING USE OF INSTANT RUNOFF VOTING FOR GENERAL ELECTIONS 
              FOR FEDERAL OFFICE.

    (a) In General.--Notwithstanding any other provision of law, each 
State shall conduct general elections for Federal office held in the 
State during 2008 and each succeeding year using an instant runoff 
voting system, and shall ensure that the voting equipment and 
technology used to conduct the elections is compatible with such a 
system.
    (b) Definitions.--In this Act, the following definitions apply:
            (1) The term ``Federal office'' has the meaning given such 
        term in section 301(3) of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 
        1971 (2 U.S.C. 431(3)).
            (2) The term ``instant runoff voting system'' means a 
        system for the election of candidates under which--
                    (A) runoff counts of candidates are conducted in 
                rounds;
                    (B) voters may rank candidates on the ballot 
                according to the order of preference;
                    (C) if in any round no candidate receives a 
                majority of the votes cast, the candidate with the 
                fewest number of votes is eliminated and the remaining 
                candidates advance to the next round;
                    (D) in each round, a voter shall be considered to 
                have cast one vote for the candidate the voter ranked 
                highest on the ballot who has not been eliminated; and
                    (E) the runoff counts are carried out automatically 
                at the time the votes are cast and tabulated.
            (3) The term ``State'' includes the District of Columbia, 
        the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, and the 
        United States Virgin Islands.

SEC. 4. GRANTS TO STATES TO DEFRAY COSTS OF ADMINISTERING INSTANT 
              RUNOFF VOTING SYSTEM.

    (a) Establishment of Grant Program.--There is established a program 
under which the Election Assistance Commission (hereafter in this Act 
referred to as the ``Commission'') shall make grants to eligible States 
to defray the costs of administering an instant runoff voting system, 
including the costs of purchasing voting equipment, software, and other 
technology necessary for such a system.
    (b) Plan for Program.--Not later than 60 days after the date of the 
enactment of this Act, the Commission shall develop and make public a 
plan describing the criteria to be used in the solicitation and 
approval of applications for grants under this Act and the criteria to 
be used in overseeing the use of funds provided under such grants, 
except that under such criteria the Commission may not require a State 
to match any portion of the amount awarded as a condition of 
eligibility.
    (c) Eligibility of States.--
            (1) In general.--A State is eligible to receive a grant 
        under the program under this section if it submits to the 
        Commission (in such form and manner as the Commission may 
        require) an application containing such information and 
        assurances as the Commission may require.
            (2) Deadline for application.--The Commission may not 
        consider an application for a grant under this section unless 
        the application is submitted prior to the expiration of the 60-
        day period which begins on the date the Commission makes public 
        the plan developed under subsection (b).
            (3) Deadline for response.--The Commission shall approve or 
        reject an application submitted under this subsection not later 
        than 120 days after receiving the application.
            (4) Criteria for rejection.--The Commission may not reject 
        an application submitted under this subsection unless it finds 
        that--
                    (A) the equipment, software, or other technology 
                used to administer elections in the State is not 
                compatible with an instant runoff voting system; or
                    (B) the State does not provide for appropriate 
                education for voters, poll workers, and election 
                officials in the use of an instant runoff voting 
                system.
    (d) Cap on Amount of Grant.--The amount of any grant awarded to a 
State under the program under this section may not exceed the product 
of--
            (1) the number of residents in the State at the time the 
        grant is awarded (based on the most recent decennial census); 
        and
            (2) $12.
    (e) Authorization of Appropriations.--There are authorized to be 
appropriated to carry out the program under this section--
            (1) $500,000,000 for fiscal year 2005; and
            (2) such sums as may be necessary for fiscal year 2006 and 
        each succeeding fiscal year.

SEC. 5. RELATIONSHIP TO OTHER LAWS.

    Nothing in this Act may be construed to supersede or conflict with 
the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (42 U.S.C. 1973aa et seq.) or the 
National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (42 U.S.C. 1973gg et seq.).

SEC. 6. SEVERABILITY.

    If any provision of this Act or amendment made by this Act, or the 
application of a provision or amendment to any person or circumstance, 
is held to be unconstitutional, the remainder of this Act and 
amendments made by this Act, and the application of the provisions and 
amendment to any person or circumstance, shall not be affected by the 
holding.
                                 <all>

Pages: 1

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