HB 687Background and procedural information
In 2006, New Hampshire voters passed a ballot initiative that would change the way that New Hampshire draws districts. HB 687 The proposal, which passed, allows districts to be drawn using a single-member scheme, an at-large scheme, or a more obscure electoral system called “floterial” districts. These “floterial” districts are used to ensure that districts that are underrepresented gain adequate representation. New Hampshire Constitution Part II Section 11. This works as follows: If the ideal district size is 50,000, and districts 1 and 2 each have 75,000 people, one representative each would underrepresent the districts and two representatives each would overrepresent the districts. Instead, if each district is given one representative and a “floating” third representative is voted on by districts 1 and 2 combined, both districts now have appropriate representation. Gary F. Moncrief, *_Floterial Districts, Reapportionment, and the Puzzle of Representation_**, */Legislative Studies Quarterly/, Vol. 14, No. 2 (May, 1989), pp. 251-264.
HB 687 requires the general court, the New Hampshire legislature, to form new districts complying with the new district regulations adopted into Part II Section 11 of the New Hampshire Constitution by the voters. The 2008 elections are to be the first under this new system.
The bill failed to pass the house on March 27, 2007.
Under the proposed legislation, are single-member districts a requirement or otherwise implied?
No. The legislation merely mandates that the legislature comply with the recently passed constitutional provision. The constitutional provision specifically allows districts to be at-large or floterial.
Does the proposed legislation provide for Voting Rights Act compliance (e.g. can the commission use voter history information)?
No. No mention is made of how specific districts are to be drawn, except that they must follow natural political subdivisions and be contiguous.
Under the proposed legislation, how is the commission formed?
There is no commission. The legislation requires the legislature to create the new districts.
Under the proposed legislation, are competitive districts favored?
Under the proposed legislation, can members of the public submit plans?
No. There is no provision made for public submission of districting plans, however citizens could probably send their input to their legislators for consideration.
Does the proposed legislation allow for mid-decade redistricting?
No. Districts are to be drawn only in the next regular session after a decennial census.
Note: A proposal may be neutral on whether or not to favor competitive districts for a number of reasons, including that such a requirement may be thought to conflict with other criteria, potentially create other legal issues, or is assumed to flow from the new process itself -- or it might merely not be a priority for the legislative sponsors. FairVote believes that some form of proportional voting is needed to ensure maximum competitiveness for each seat and to ensure meaningful choices for all voters.