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City Councilman Proposes Measure To Halt ‘Crazy’ Cost Of Runoff Elections

Public Advocate Runoff To Cost 5 Times More Than Office's Budget
Election worker Al Becker watches as a man votes on Election Day - New York, NY - Nov 3, 2009 - Photo: David Goldman/Getty Images

Poll worker watches on as voter casts ballot (file/credit: David Goldman/Getty Images

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A New York City Councilman has proposed doing away with pricey runoff elections.

Democratic public advocate candidates Letitia James and Daniel Squadron will face off in an Oct. 1 runoff because neither secured 40 percent of the vote in last week’s primary.

Councilman Brad Lander said he expects low turnout but a high price tag for the runoff.

“The Board of Elections says it will cost them $13 million to have the public advocate runoff. The budget for the public advocate’s office is currently $2.3 million, so the election is costing us more than the office will have to spend in all four years,” Councilman Brad Lander told WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb. “It’s crazy to spend millions of dollars for an office that the whole budget’s only [$2.3] million. Luckily, there’s a great solution, which is instant runoff voting.”

Lander has introduced a bill to allow voters in a primary to rank their choice of candidates instead of voting for just one. The so-called instant runoff would eliminate another day of voting.

Currently, if no candidate wins 40 percent of the vote, the top two vote-getters face off in a runoff.

The change could also save the candidates fundraising time. Both Squadron and James’ campaigns had expected a runoff, according to the Village Voice.

Squadron’s campaign wrote to the Campaign Finance Board and requested permission to raise additional funds. The board granted the request but told candidates that they would have to keep those funds in a special “runoff” only account, the Daily News reported.

The public advocate is next in line to the mayor.

Earlier this week, Democratic mayoral hopeful Bill Thompson conceded to Bill de Blasio in an effort to avoid a runoff election.

Paper ballots are still being counted to determine whether de Blasio secured the 40 percent necessary to avoid a runoff. However, Thompson missed the deadline to withdraw from a runoff, so if de Blasio doesn’t win 40 percent of the vote, a runoff will still be held.

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