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Bill to adopt approval voting introduced in NH State House

From, H/T to Dale Sheldon-Hess (excerpt of the bill’s actual text below):

A bill to adopt approval voting has been filed in the N.H. House, and one of the co-sponsors is a member of the relevant committee. The bill would establish approval voting for all state offices and presidential primaries. Approval voting is an electoral system for single-winner elections that allows voters to cast not more than one vote for as many candidates as they like and selects the top vote-getter. Steven Brams and other political scientists have endorsed the system as an alternative to plurality rule (or “first-past-the-post”) because a) approval voting is more likely than plurality to select a Condorcet winner when there is one, b) approval voting tends to favor candidates with even temperament and broad ideological appeal, and c) approval voting is more likely than plurality to permit victories by independent and third-party candidates.

From the bill:


AN ACT allowing voters to vote for multiple candidates for an office.

SPONSORS: Rep. D. McGuire, Merr 8; Rep. DeJong, Hills 9; Rep. Cohn, Merr 6; Rep. Bowers, Sull 3

COMMITTEE: Election Law


This bill eliminates statutory restrictions on the ability of voters to vote for multiple candidates for the same office….

4 Instructions to Voters. Amend RSA 659:17 to read as follows:

659:17 Marking the Ballot; Instructions to Voters. The secretary of state shall provide on the top of the general election ballot the following voting instructions. The secretary of state is authorized to replace the phrase “Make the appropriate mark” with an appropriate description and example of the mark to be made for the type of ballot in use, such as “Make a cross (X) in the box,” “Completely fill in the oval,” or “Complete the arrow”:

1) To Vote

Make the appropriate mark to the right of your choice or choices. [For each office vote for not more than the number of candidates stated in the sentence: “Vote for not more than ___.” If you vote for more than the stated number of candidates, your vote for that office will not be counted.]

2) To Vote by Write-In

To vote for a person whose name is not printed on the ballot, write in the name of the person in the “write-in” space. Make the appropriate mark to the right of your choice.


  1. Clay Shentrup Clay Shentrup January 28, 2011

    His name is Dan McGuire. I’ve conversed with him a bit, and he seems like a very sharp guy who is taking a conservative approach to this issue.

    He doesn’t want to get into complex election theory, or debate about which voting method is “best”. He just wants to implement the most simple and easy upgrade possible, it seems. A very pragmatic guy.

    Interestingly, Steve Brams, the NYU political science professor who has perhaps been one of the greatest champions of Approval Voting, is from Concord, and previously tried to get NH to pass an Approval Voting bill in the late 70’s, I believe.

    Also, Dartmouth professor emeritus of mathematics, Robert Z. Norman, is a major Approval Voting advocate.

    Also, New Hampshire is known for having a strong Libertarian contingent. Republicans might really like the fact that Approval Voting helps to prevent them from losing to a Democrat in the event that a Libertarian does well and splits the fiscal conservative vote. Likewise for Democrats and Greens perhaps. Since there’s that huge benefit in it for the major parties, presumably most of them would support it if properly educated.

    Of course, there’s the possibility that third parties could eventually become stronger as a result, and then actually WIN. But that wouldn’t happen overnight. In essence, today’s incumbents could put their successors in a bit of jeopardy in exchange for making themselves safer, which seems like a good strategy for them.

    And for voters, Approval Voting is a much more democratic system, which ensures that no voter EVER has to fear supporting his sincere favorite candidate.

    This would be a really great bill, and I hope it passes.

  2. d.eris d.eris January 26, 2011

    Anyone know more about the legislator who introduced it?

  3. Dale Sheldon-Hess Dale Sheldon-Hess January 26, 2011

    I don’t know whether or not any other bills have ever been introduced, but no bill mandating approval voting has ever been passed in the United States; not at the state level certainly and potentially never at a local level either.

    So yes, this could be quite exciting!

  4. Aaron Hamlin Aaron Hamlin January 26, 2011

    This is absolutely excellent news! The fact that the state legislature introduced this is quite interesting. I would have thought a ballot initiative would have been more likely. I’m excited to see how this goes. You can bet a lot of voting system-reform advocates will have their eyes on this.

  5. Ross Levin Ross Levin Post author | January 25, 2011

    Sorry, I’ll try to fix that.

    This is really exciting. Has a bill like this been introduced anywhere else, now or another time?

  6. Dale Sheldon-Hess Dale Sheldon-Hess January 25, 2011

    The excerpt omitted the strike-through on language that the bill would eliminated. Eliminated text is also enclosed in brackets, so it’s still identifiable, just a bit harder to notice.

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