Voices & Choices

New Hampshire primary voters get a taste of RCV

New Hampshire primary voters get a taste of RCV

With less than a month until its first-in-the-nation primary, the pressure is on New Hampshire voters to select their favorite presidential hopeful from a pool of more than 14 viable candidates.

Unfortunately, voters will not have the opportunity to use ranked choice voting (RCV) to parse the field, which, as The Concord Monitor pointed out, is uniquely conducive to RCV.

In their words, the race—with “a slew of candidates,” “no obvious front-runner,” and “a range of policies and personalities to choose from,”is “a textbook example…where the ‘normal’ system of voting for just one person – with the plurality leader declared the winner no matter what everybody else thinks – seems likely to do a poor job reflecting the electorate’s preferences.”

While RCV will not be used in the actual primary, many New Hampshire voters will still get a taste of the method. The Concord Monitor and New England College’s College Convention have employed RCV in two special experiments to help voters imagine what the election would look like if it were conducted via the method.

The Monitor’s ballot features the top Democratic candidates and was disseminated to all subscribers of the paper. It allows readers to rank as many candidates as they wish.

New England College’s College Convention, where 11 candidates are scheduled to be in attendance or appearing via videochat, will allow attendees to rank their top three choices for the presidency. According to The Concord Patch, the results of the RCV simulation will be discussed on the final day of the four-day conference.

Of course, the best-case scenario would have been for New Hampshire voters to use RCV to actually rank their preferred nominees; nonetheless, these two experiments, which provide great publicity and exposure for the method, are a great first step toward eventually adopting RCV for presidential nomination contests in the state and across the country.


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