Is New Hampshire About to Trade In First-Past-the-Post/Plurality for Approval Voting State-Wide?
HOUSE BILL 240
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
Legislators are offering up a bill to use approval voting state-wide. Approval voting allows voters to vote just like plurality in a single-winner election, but voters are open to marking (not ranking) more than one candidate.
Interestingly, the bill’s author is primarily selling the bill as a way to protect against overvotes. Voting for more than one candidate on a plurality ballot spoils the ballot. Whereas on an approval ballot,voting for multiple candidates is perfectly fine. The very low spoilage rate of approval ballots is certainly a perk. But the benefits of approval voting extend much, much further.
Approval voting is one of very few single-winner systems (plurality and IRV are not of them) that always allow voters to mark their honest favorite. It is also completely immune to vote splitting (IRV and plurality are not). This allows candidates to earn a more accurate level of support. Approval voting may offer a real challenge to the two-party system when voters start telling politicians whom they really approve of.
To you naysayers that espouse Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem whenever talk of an alternative method comes up, know that approval voting is a cardinal-class system. Arrow’s theorem only applies to ranked systems and plurality.