As Maine continues a legal struggle over the same issue, New Hampshire legislators will soon be discussing the possibility of reinventing the voting system with ranked-choice ballots. The proposal, House Bill 1540, would allow voters in a race with more than two candidates seeking a single office, such as in party primaries, to rank the candidates in order of preference rather than just choosing the one they want to win. The winner would emerge from a repeated calculation of all voters’ rankings. The prime sponsor of the bill, Ellen Read, D-Newmarket, noted that variations of this voting method are used in some cities around the country, including Cambridge, Mass., as well as in a number of professional organizations and even in a few national elections, notably for the Australian parliament. “It more effectively and accurately reflects the will of the voter,” she said. “It gives more choice.”
Further, Read argued, ranked-choice voting “negates the spoiler effect” in which people cast ballots to harm one candidate rather than to support one.
“The 2016 (presidential) election really showed this,” she said. “We had two of the most reviled presidential candidates that had ever run. … The majority of people cast a negative vote against the other party, rather than voting their conscience for whom they truly want.”
Her bill, which has co-sponsors from both major parties, would install ranked-choice voting for all federal and state offices, including state representative, as well as for party primaries. It would not affect local elections.