Voices & Choices

New Hampshire Democrats use ranked choice voting to choose new leader

New Hampshire Democrats use ranked choice voting to choose new leader

Last week, New Hampshire’s House Democratic caucus used ranked choice voting (RCV) to choose Representative Renny Cushing as their new leader.

The race featured four candidates and required three rounds of counting before a majority winner emerged. Each of the four candidates agreed to use the system ahead of time. In past years, New Hampshire Democrats had held multiple rounds of voting with breaks in between.

In the first round of counting, Representative Doug Ley led with 31 percent of the vote to Cushing’s 30 percent. By round three, Cushing won with 58 percent to Ley’s 41 percent.  

Representative Ellen Read, who is sponsoring legislation to implement RCV statewide in New Hampshire, says that New Hampshire’s Democratic Party decided to adopt a rule to use RCV at the request of several members. She notes that RCV is “gaining in popularity” and many caucus members recognized it is “a more democratic way to do voting.”

“Because we had four candidates, it was imperative that we choose a candidate that had truly the broadest base of support so that that candidate could move forward with a mandate.” - Rep. Ellen Read

The vote proceeded smoothly, and saved members time by eliminating the need for extra rounds. Once members saw that the RCV ballot was as simple as putting numbers next to the candidates, they found it easy to use. 

Read believes RCV can become more standard within the party, and eventually expand to the rest of New Hampshire as well. She explains that RCV elections are great because “there is no strategy involved…It’s pure and simple, vote your conscience.”

New Hampshire’s Democrats joined a number of state political parties that made strides with RCV this year. We are encouraged that this critical reform has gained such wide acceptance around the country, and encourage more parties to consider using it as a way to improve their elections.

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