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N.H. Lawmakers Say Approval Voting Would Give Voters Greater Representation

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The Concord Monitor’s political blog, the Political Monitor, reported Wednesday that two bills have been introduced in the New Hampshire House of Representatives that would adopt approval voting for municipal and statewide elections. Both bills received initial hearings Tuesday

House Bills 1265 and 1521, sponsored by state Reps. Eric Schleien, Keith Ammon, Frank Edelblut, would allow voters in municipal and statewide elections, respectively, to choose as many candidates as they want on a ballot with multiple candidates. The voting method is commonly referred to as approval voting.


How Does Approval Voting Work?


“You have a lot more information about what the voter thinks about each individual candidate with this method than with the current method,” said Rep. Dan McGuire during Tuesday’s hearing.

The Political Monitor reports:

“Approval voting is one type of alternative voting system, among more complicated variants like the Condorcet Method or instant-runoff voting. A number of efforts to allow such systems in New Hampshire have been filed by legislators in recent years, but haven’t received much traction.


Advocates of alternative voting systems argue that our current system, called plurality voting, does a poor job of reflecting voters’ opinions, makes it hard for alternative viewpoints to be heard, and leads to divisive politics.”

Some proponents used the current GOP presidential primary field to make the case for approval voting.

Under the current system, GOP primary voters can only select one candidate, which doesn’t show whether or not they would be willing to support other candidates in the large field. Under approval voting, voters would be given the option to select all the candidates they think are presidential material.

“A half-dozen proponents argued that this would allow voters to truly reflect their opinion, removing the need for strategic voting, or “gaming the system,” in which a primary voter selects a candidate only because they think that candidate has the best chance of winning in the general election,” the Political Monitor reports.

Supporters of approval voting argue that not only does this not adequately reflect voter opinion, but it can end up swaying an election for a candidate who does not have the most support.

Opponents and skeptics, however, question the fairness of this voting method. New Hampshire Deputy Secretary of State David Scanlan expressed concern that “allowing a different number of votes would allow those who voted for more candidates to effectively “dilute” the vote of people who vote for fewer candidates,” according to the Political Monitor.

In terms of how approval voting might affect the cost or administration of elections, there would be very little changes. The alternative voting method would not require a change in ballot design or the function of ballot counting machines, an excuse used to block the adoption of ranked choice voting in several municipalities across the U.S, despite the will of voters.

Photo Credit: Joseph Sohm / shutterstock.com

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