1-7-1003. Conduct of elections using ranked voting methods – instant runoff voting – choice voting or proportional voting – reports
Overview of Statute
Ranked voting ballots must allow an elector to rank as many choices as the voting system can accommodate, including at least three candidates. The ballot must also allow an elector to vote for two write-in candidates, but election officials will not consider any vote for an unqualified candidate. In an election that includes only one candidate, the procedure for ranked voting, known as instant runoff voting, involves comparing ballots in multiple rounds according to the order of the ranked candidates on cast ballots. The candidate receiving the most votes, according to the counting, is declared the winner. For elections involving the election of multiple candidates to the same office, a local government may conduct a ranked voting election using the single transferable vote method. This method also involves counting in rounds, and specific rules provided by the secretary of state eliminate candidates with the fewest votes.
Local governments using ranked voting ballots must provide sufficient instruction to voters about the procedure for calculating the votes, including conforming with state statute and the “Voting Rights Act of 1965.” Likewise, designated election officials must conduct the vote count according to this section and ruled adopted by the secretary of state. This official must also provide a report that includes the number of votes each candidate received in every round, a ballot image identifying the order of ranked candidates, and a comprehensive summary of the results. The secretary of state may also adopt other rules.
 C.R.S. § 1-7-1004(1): provides regulations for rules promulgated by the secretary of state.
(1) A ranked voting ballot shall allow an elector to rank as many choices as there are candidates. However, if the voting system cannot accommodate a number of rankings equal to the number of candidates, the designated election official may limit the number of choices an elector may rank to the maximum number allowed by the voting system; except that the number of choices shall not be less than three.
(2) A ranked voting ballot shall allow an elector to rank up to two write-in candidates. A vote for an unqualified write-in candidate shall not be considered a mark for a candidate.
(3) (a) In an election in which one candidate is to be elected to an office, the ranked voting method shall be known as instant runoff voting. The ballots shall be counted in rounds simulating a series of runoffs until two candidates remain or until one candidate has more votes than the combined vote total of all other candidates. The candidate having the greatest number of votes shall be declared the winner.
(b) In each round of counting ballots in an election using instant runoff voting, each ballot shall be counted as a vote for the remaining candidate ranked highest by the elector, and the candidate with the smallest number of votes shall be eliminated.
(c) If two or more candidates tie for the smallest number of votes, the candidate to eliminate shall be chosen by lot.
(4) In an election in which more than one candidate is to be elected to an office in a multiple-seat district or on a governing body that includes multiple at-large seats, a local government may conduct a ranked voting election using the single transferable vote method, in which a winning threshold is calculated based on the number of seats to be filled and the number of votes cast so that no more than the correct number of candidates can win. The ballots shall be counted in rounds, with surplus votes transferred from winning candidates and candidates with the fewest votes eliminated according to the methodology established by the secretary of state by rule, until the number of candidates remaining equals the number of seats to be filled. A local government may also conduct an election pursuant to this subsection (4) using the principles of instant runoff voting specified in subsection (3) of this section to ensure that each elector has equal voting power and that an elector’s lower ranking of a candidate does not count against the candidate to whom the elector gave the highest rank.
(5) (a) In an election conducted using a ranked voting method, an explanation of ranked voting and instructions for electors in the form approved by the secretary of state by rule shall be posted at each polling location and included with each mail ballot.
(b) A local government that conducts an election using a ranked voting method shall conduct a voter education and outreach campaign to familiarize electors with ranked voting in English and in every language in which a ballot is required to be made available pursuant to this code and the federal “Voting Rights Act of 1965”, 42 U.S.C. sec. 1973aa-1a.
(6) In an election using a ranked voting method, the election judges shall not count votes at the polling location but shall deliver all ballots cast in the election to the designated election official, which shall count the votes in accordance with this section and the rules adopted by the secretary of state pursuant to section 1-7-1004 (1).
(7) (a) For an election conducted using a ranked voting method, the designated election official shall issue the following reports:
(I) A summary report listing the total number of votes for each candidate in each round;
(II) A ballot image report listing for each ballot the order in which the elector ranked the candidates, the precinct of the ballot, and whether the ballot is a mail ballot; and
(III) A comprehensive report listing the results in the summary report by precinct.
(b) The secretary of state may by rule establish additional requirements for the reports issued pursuant to this subsection (7).
(c) Preliminary versions of the summary report and ballot image report shall be made available to the public as soon as possible after the commencement of the official canvass of the vote pursuant to subsection (6) of this section.
Source: L. 2008: Entire part added, p. 1250, § 2, effective August 5.L. 2009: (5)(b) amended, (SB 09-292), ch. 369, p. 1938, § 2, effective August 5.L. 2013: (5)(a), (6), and (7)(a)(II) amended, (HB 13-1303), ch. 185, p. 724, § 79, effective May 10.
Cross references: In 2013, subsections (5)(a), (6), and (7)(a)(II) were amended by the “Voter Access and Modernized Elections Act”. For the short title and the legislative declaration, see sections 1 and 2 of chapter 185, Session Laws of Colorado 2013.
The rules define “ballot image” as a digitally captured image of a paper ballot or a representation in electronic form of the marks or vote positions of a cast ballot on a DRE.
1. Definition for Designated election official
The secretary of state, a county clerk and recorder, or other election official as provided by article XXI of the state constitution. C.R.S. § 1-12-100.5.
2. Definition for State
A state of the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands, or any territory or insular possession subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. C.R.S. § 1-8.3-102.
3. Definition for Ballot
(a) A federal write-in absentee ballot;
(b) A ballot specifically prepared or distributed for use by a covered voter in accordance with this article; or
(c) A ballot cast by a covered voter in accordance with this article.
(2) “Covered voter” means:
(a) A uniformed-service voter defined in paragraph (a) of subsection (9) of this section who is a resident of this state but who is absent from this state by reason of active duty and who otherwise satisfies this state’s voter eligibility requirements;
(b) An overseas voter who, before leaving the United States, was last eligible to vote in this state and, except for a state residency requirement, otherwise satisfies this state’s voter eligibility requirements;
(c) An overseas voter who, before leaving the United States, would have been last eligible to vote in this state had the voter then been of voting age and, except for a state residency requirement, otherwise satisfies this state’s voter eligibility requirements; or
(d) An overseas voter who was born outside the United States, is not described in paragraph (b) or (c) of this subsection (2), and, except for a state residency requirement, otherwise satisfies this state’s voter eligibility requirements if the last place where a parent, legal guardian, spouse, or civil union partner of the voter was, or under this article would have been, eligible to vote before leaving the United States is within this state.
C.R.S. § 1-8.3-102.
4. Definition for Election
Any election under the “Uniform Election Code of 1992” or the “Colorado Municipal Election Code of 1965”, article 10 of title 31, C.R.S. C.R.S. § 1-7.5-103.
5. Definition for Secretary
The Colorado secretary of state. C.R.S. § 1-1.5-102.
6. Definition for Candidate
Any person who seeks nomination or election to any state or local public office that is to be voted on in this state at any primary election, general election, school district election, special district election, or municipal election. “Candidate” also includes a judge or justice of any court of record who seeks to be retained in office pursuant to the provisions of section 25 of article VI. A person is a candidate for election if the person has publicly announced an intention to seek election to public office or retention of a judicial office and thereafter has received a contribution or made an expenditure in support of the candidacy. A person remains a candidate for purposes of this article so long as the candidate maintains a registered candidate committee. A person who maintains a candidate committee after an election cycle, but who has not publicly announced an intention to seek election to public office in the next or any subsequent election cycle, is a candidate for purposes of this article. Section 2(2) of article XXVIII of the state constitution.