House Bill 851 - Ranked-Choice Voting & Open Primaries
Ranked-Choice Voting (RCV) or Instant Runoff and Open Primaries (H851)
Sets an open primary for certain offices to be held on a Tuesday set by the General Assembly, with voters voting for one candidate from a list of candidates and the top four candidates advancing to the general election. Applies to the election of any State or federal office, including any statewide executive office, the office of United States Senate, the office of United States House of Representatives, member of the State Senate, member of the State House of Representatives, and elected judicial offices, except for elections for president. Provides for petitioning requirements to appear on a primary ballot and contents of ballot. Specifies that minor parties qualified for the general election in accordance with GS Chapter 163 are not required to compete in the primary and may choose their nominees by party convention and that other minor parties may choose their candidates by meeting ballot access requirements set by State law.
Provides that the general election will be held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November in even-numbered years, and will be conducted by ranked choice voting. Specifies that ranked choice voting (i.e., a system where voters rank candidates in order of preference and candidates with fewest first-preference votes are eliminated after an initial tabulation and those votes are redistributed to candidates that voters have marked as their next preference) will be used any time there are at least three candidates in the general election. If only two candidates are in the general election, then the standard voting method set forth in GS Chapter 163 applies. Directs the State Board of Elections (Board) to research and develop an optimal method for conducting and counting a ranked-choice voting election that complies with the act. Specifies four things that the Board should review in conducting the Study, including previous ranked-choice elections in the State. Directs the Board to also (1) research and design an easily understood ballot to work with various voting equipment used in the State and (2) develop a program of voter education in ranked choice elections.
Appropriates $410,000 from the General Fund to the Board in nonrecurring funds for each year of the 2023-25 fiscal biennium to be used as follows: $210,000 for each year of the biennium for information technology development work related to election reporting and ballot changes to integrate into the current Statewide Elections Information Management System and $200,000 for each year of the biennium to be used for statewide education and training. (UNC Legislative Reporting)