Are New Hampshire’s representatives finally taking a closer look at alternative voting systems? For years, the state elections committee in the state house has rejected any proposed changes to NH’s voting system, regardless of how much sense they have made. However, now that Maine has adopted “ranked choice” voting, perhaps NH’s reps are taking the issue more seriously.
I was surprised recently to receive a call from Keene Sentinel reporter Jake Lahut asking me for my opinion on ranked choice voting for an article that appeared last week. As someone who has been a longtime libertarian, I’ve seen how the “vote for one” system we have in place hurts third parties, so I definitely support ranked choice and its competitor, the easier “approval voting”.
Both systems solve the “wasted vote syndrome” where voters, afraid of the worst of the two evils winning, will vote for the “lesser evil” of the two major party candidates. They will do this even though they may better agree with a third party candidate, like a Green or Libertarian, simply out of fear of their least favorite major party candidate winning.
Ranked choice allows the voter to rank their favorites on the ballot while approval voting allows the voter to simply vote for all those candidates they’d be alright with winning the election.
Last week in the state house, HB 505 was heard that would allow for approval voting to take hold in New Hampshire’s elections. Here’s the bill’s full hearing in front of the house elections committee:
City councilor Margaret Rice, one of the few sane voices on this issue, speaks out in favor of self-ownership.
Just one day after the 85th anniversary of the repeal of alcohol prohibition, the Keene City Council voted 10-4 to publicly express their ignorance on the matter and increase nicotine prohibition within the city limits. All of the testimony on the matter given on at least three separate occasions didn’t matter, despite most testifying against the idea.
Reminding the councilors of the lessons of history didn’t work. Though alcohol prohibition was a tragic, predictable failure, apparently they councilors think that banning the sale to and possession of nicotine by those under the age of 21 is going to somehow keep it out of the hands of middle schoolers. The councilors who voted in favor never addressed the fact that middle schoolers are already able to acquire nicotine despite it being illegal for them to do so. They also didn’t explain how increasing the legal age to 21 from 18 would have any effect on underage possession.
That’s because prohibition is an authoritarian fantasy that never works and always has predictable, destructive, unintended consequences. All they are doing is punishing innocent store owners’ bottom line and increasing the likelihood that more college students will be harassed by the police for simply walking down the street with a vaporizer or cigarette and “looking under 21”.
They’ve ramped up the futile, pointless, counterproductive war on drugs in Keene and we’re all going to be worse off for it. The ban has also sparked a political fire in Dan Cavallero, the owner of Monadnock Vapor, who has announced he’s planning to run for Keene city council in 2019 as a result of this stupid move by the council.
Cavallero has been the most active opponent of the measure, having attended every public hearing and testified, even while on crutches from a recent injury. Here’s the last public hearing video from the city’s MSFI committee which features Cavallero, me, and others testifying against the insanity of prohibition. Sadly, it fell on deaf ears:
Libertarian Jilletta Jarvis Announces Run for NH Governor in 2018
The 2018 election is over and Jilletta Jarvis, the Libertarian candidate for Governor of New Hampshire has failed to reach the 4% required for the Libertarian Party of NH to retain ballot access, which it achieved in 2016 for the first time in two decades. I want it to be clear, I really like Jilletta and she was a much better candidate than the 2016 offering from the LP, Max Abramson. Jilletta ran a good campaign and was much more active than Abramson, but didn’t even come close to Abramson’s 4%. She got 1.46%. What happened?
It’s pretty clear that 2016 was a fluke. I’d speculated then that Abramson, who barely existed as a candidate, and other “Libertarians” like Gary Johnson at the national level had benefited from people’s frustrations with Trump and Hillary being their main presidential choices. It’s pretty clear this palpable frustration benefited all third parties in 2016, with the Libertarian and Green presidential candidates getting three times their vote totals from 2012. People weren’t voting for the Libertarians and Greens, they were voting against Trump and Hillary.
Add to that the fact that major media entities WMUR and the Union Leader set their debate rules to exclude the Libertarian candidates like Jilletta, and it’s pretty clear she didn’t get a fair chance from all New Hampshire media. Shame on WMUR and the Union Leader for excluding their viewers and readers from knowing about their third choice.
Libertarians Protest Unfair Debates Outside St. Anselm College
Of course, the two-party duopoly has long been complicit in excluding libertarians politically. In the 90s when the Libertarian Party of New Hampshire got ballot access for the first time by getting over 3% of the vote, the Republicans and Democrats voted to raise the bar 33% higher to its current level of 4%.
Not all the blame can be placed on the media and government, however. While Jilletta is a wonderful person and a far better candidate than we had in 2016, she wasn’t the most principled libertarian. Doubt my claim? Even the Keene Sentinel knows what a libertarian is supposed to sound like. In a recent piece in the Sentinel, opinion page editor Wilfred Bilodeau said:
She seems enthusiastic and smart, but we were struck at how her libertarian vision differs from some of the party’s more orthodox candidates. She says she’s for smaller government but outlined several programs that would necessitate spending more money. To improve education, she pitched the concept of centralizing public education, with the state collecting all education taxes and determining how to best spend them. That strikes us as anything but a libertarian approach. Overall, we feel Jarvis has some worthy ideas, but her vision for the state seems unfocused, perhaps due to the pressure of trying to appeal to enough voters to garner the 4 percent of the vote needed to keep the party on the ballot.
The good news is the media, at least in Keene, has learned what a libertarian is supposed to say. A true libertarian should be advocating the non-aggression principle and applying it consistently across all government programs. That means eliminating coercion from the system, or eliminating the system entirely. That’s it. If Jilletta believes in some government coercion, she really shouldn’t be the party’s nominee. Watering down the message does not win over votes. Staying true to principles is what the LP is supposed to be about. Hopefully the LPNH will offer more principled state level candidates in the future so we can see how their vote totals compare to Jilletta and her similarly – as the Sentinel described it – “unfocused” predecessors. (more…)
This past primary was the first primary in New Hampshire in which the Libertarian Party (LP) was a recognized party. The LP has less to do with libertarianism than I would like, but many people’s conversion stories seem to start there, however brief their stay, so if “we” can get the State to draw attention to the fact that libertarianism exists that seems like a good to me. It also seems to diminish the legitimacy of the system, and that’s always a good thing. In the interest of full disclosure I will point out that my conversion story starts with walking into the first election held after I turned 18, seeing more than two presidential candidates, looking up all the parties, and Googling “non-aggression principle’ after reading the LP platform. (more…)
Of the three candidates in the race for NH Senate District 10, I was the only one to receive a recommendation from the Marijuana Policy Project, while the Republican and Democrat in the race received a middle “unknown, uncertain, or less favorable” rating. You can see MPP’s full state senate voting guide here.
For those unaware, libertarians believe in the non-aggression principle which says we don’t support the use of aggressive force. Prohibitions should therefore be ended and people who want to own/produce/sell weapons and chemicals or plants should be free to do so. Live free or die.