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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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47 comments
William Waugh
William Waugh

There is no dilution with Approval Voting. All voters have the same amount of power over the outcome of the election, which is not true of vote-for-one Plurality nor of IRV. With Approval Voting, if two voters have exactly opposite opinions about the candidates, their votes cancel.

Ben Hardin
Ben Hardin

John, you could do exactly that with the approval plus grade voting method described in the July 6 posting on the FB page Electoral Reform for a More Favorable Congress.

William Waugh
William Waugh

I already tore apart your system. It does not accord the voters equal power.

Brian Shank
Brian Shank

Voting for all of the candidates you like on a ballot with more than two indeed constitutes "one legal vote."

Brian Shank
Brian Shank

Charles Mueller I think you have completely missed the point of this article and missed the enormous value of changing the voting method. Even with educated voters, electoral tragedies like the one in Florida 2000 could still occur. The vote-splitting problem is extremely harmful, and approval voting gets rid of it so Ralph Nader type candidates cannot spoil and election.

Patrica Metsinger
Patrica Metsinger

ELECTORIAL COLLEGE IS BS...LETS REPUKES LOAD THE SYSTEM..... This may be worth a look.

Robert Weber
Robert Weber

FOLLOW THE CONSTITUTION AS WRITTEN..... " ONE LEGAL CITIZEN, ONE LEGAL VOTE" that vote carried forward with NO DEBATING , CHANGING, TRADING, BY THE VOTE CARRIER.

John Dutcher
John Dutcher

I think we should have a NO box this candidate stinks!

simplulo
simplulo

What you want is a more detailed rating system: -1, 0, +1. Such an upgrade would require new ballots and a software mod, but it would not be complicated.

William Waugh
William Waugh

@simplulo, a few notes on three-valued rating:

1. I argue that if a voter leaves a candidate's entry *unmarked* on the ballot or does not write in the name of a candidate that other voters write in in an election that allows write-ins, the unnamed or unmarked candidate should receive the *lowest* possible rating from that voter for the purposes of the tally. So on your scale, that would be -1.

2. No change to software is required to implement 3-valued rating. Software designed for Plurality can be fooled by treating each possible rating as a "candidate" on the ballots.

3. In an election with many voters, voting factions can receive the same benefit they could with finer-grained rating, even in the two-valued system, by using random variables.

Brian Shank
Brian Shank

Of all nations that hold legitimate elections, the US has the most undemocratic voting system in the world. The vote-for-only-one rule is the main reason why. I don't understand why people are so outraged by photo ID requirement but have no feelings about being forced to pick only one candidate on a ballot considering how harmful that rule is to the power and influence of voters.

Charles Mueller
Charles Mueller

Brian Shank I am saying if Americans knew as much about the voting record of their elected officials as they do about some funky that bats .195 or the Kardashians there would be no problem!

clayshentrup
clayshentrup

Not true. For example, independent Eliot Cutler was far and away the most popular candidate in the last Maine gubernatorial election. The voters were smart enough to know he was superior to Paul LePage. But LePage won because those who were against him had their votes split between the independent and the Demacrat.

Brian Shank
Brian Shank

I was disgusted with that guys comment about diluting the vote of some people. Very ignorant thing for him to say.

William Waugh
William Waugh

He really should try to explain what he thinks he means by it.

Brian Shank
Brian Shank

Charles, are you saying that approval voting is pointless and that educated voters are all that is necessary?

Ken Hald
Ken Hald

Wouldn't this method risk folks being elected with the most votes but by a minotity of voters?

simplulo
simplulo

Yes, same as the current voting method, and all alternative voting methods unless you raise the default decision-basis bar to majority. That's a separate issue. A voting method consists of three steps: ballot (how you express your opinion), tallying algorithm, and decision basis. The default decision basis is plurality, but if you require more agreement you can raise it to majority or supermajority.

Katy Doran
Katy Doran

If NH goes for this, it will be worth watching with a serious eye. But I did get a chuckle at the statement “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,” by the NH Deputy Sec'y of State. Isn't that the whole idea?!

Charles Mueller
Charles Mueller

It is a common practice for two reasons. Partisan and name id voting. More reason for voter education, which I guess is wishful thinking.

William Waugh
William Waugh

When replying to someone's comment, please reply under their comment instead of in a new one.  Readers can't tell what "it" you are referring to.

Cindy Laskevich
Cindy Laskevich

While there's some validity to that reasoning, the assumption is that the "stalking horses" will only draw votes from the challenger. Would the incumbent really be so insulated from the effects of dilution?

William Waugh
William Waugh

When replying to someone's comment, please reply under their comment instead of in a new one.

Charles Mueller
Charles Mueller

Think about it! Presently if an incumbent has a serious challenge they get several stalking horses to run knowing diluting the pool give the incumbent a better chance. The best thing is educated voters who ignore parties!

William Waugh
William Waugh

Educated voters, unless they change the voting system as proposed by these bills, don't have any other way around the vote-splitting phenomenon. But with Approval Voting, you can vote for all the stalking horses as well as your favorites and the incumbent has no advantage from running the stalking horses. If you want to use all your political power against the incumbent (that is, if you judge that no other consideration is so important), you can do so by voting for everyone except the incumbent.

Anatole Evans
Anatole Evans

Stand up to Hill first!! Trump is next! About as fair and balanced as the Corporate media! Feel the Bern! The two party system has been playing the same game for forty years! The only ones benefiting and getting what they want is the one percent! Just a trending news story brought to you by repetition creates reality inc. Also brought to you by just ignore Bernie Sanders inc. Not all that different from how Bill Cosby handled these questions! Bill Clinton is just a much better liar! Check out the list of allegations and the number of women making them! I believe victims and I don't trust the Clintons! Bill Clinton and Bill Cosby used power, intimidation, and a persona larger than life to silence a lot of women! Just wrong! Rape was part of the allegations and money was paid out! How many women need to come forward before we believe them? HRC is enabler and in chief!

Stella Portwood
Stella Portwood

Do it now.....its about time our voices were heard again......

John Dubose
John Dubose

Approval voting would chase the most partisan politicians our of the room. Lets do it now.

Gregory Moohn
Gregory Moohn

Yes, at this point I'm willing to try anything to help shake the system up. We need help, and we need it badly.

Ed Montero
Ed Montero

Great idea to govern ourselves. The people are not stupid and this way we can truly hold our politicians responsible for their actions. We need accountability for their decision. The country is broken and we need to rebuild, restart and revolt, rise up and make them feel the Bern

Paul Kolifrath
Paul Kolifrath

Easier to just dump liberals and illegals into ocean like Argentina did

Linda Kennedy
Linda Kennedy

#VOTE The Republican #PARTYOFHATE out of local state and Federal Government #ENOUGH #VOTE #Hillary2016 #WitchHunt #BroomsUp #BlackLivesMatter #LATINOS #LGBT #WOMANCARD

Paul Kolifrath
Paul Kolifrath

According to your fb page you dont even live in america. So plz stfu moron

Erlinda Agena
Erlinda Agena

Vote according to your conscience but vote blue!

Jamie Keniston
Jamie Keniston

I think it is an interesting idea. I know many voters currently go with the lesser of two evils mentality under plurality voting. This would allow voters to voice their support for anyone they wouldn't mind winning an election.

clayshentrup
clayshentrup

Jeff Marson,


It doesn't really make sense to "prefer" one voting method over another. You prefer one *candidate* over another. The measure of quality for a voting method is thus, "how happy will I be, on average, with the candidates who are elected?" There is an objective answer to that question, called Bayesian Regret. The best calculations of Bayesian Regret show Approval Voting far outperforming IRV. Here are some sample figures from the book "Gaming the Vote".


http://ScoreVoting.net/BayRegsFig.html


Approval Voting is also radically simpler, and can't punish you for voting your favorite, the way IRV can. There are several other advantages, described here.


www.electology.org/approval-voting-vs-irv

Jeff Marston
Jeff Marston

I understand the comparison to plurality voting but I'm comparing it to ranked choice and I much prefer RCV.

William Waugh
William Waugh

If a voter thinks it is in the best interest of her values to grade two candidates equally, how can you justify requiring a ranking?