HB 687
Background 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.

June 18th 2006
Where politicians dare to tread
San Francisco Chronicle

The San Francisco Chronicle editorial board endorses the British Columbia Citizens Assembly approach to electoral reform, specifically noting the potential for proportional representation in California.

March 21st 2006
Real redistricting reform is proportional representation
San Francisco Examiner

Rob Dickinson of Californians for Electoral Reform writes a commentary on how recent proposals to make the redistricting process fairer miss the mark. For real progress in how we elect our representatives, we need to turn to proportional voting.

March 1st 2006
Tanner redistricting bill gains Senate sponsor
The Hill

Senator Tim Johnson introduced a companion bill to Rep. John Tanner's federal redistricting reform legislation. The identical bills, supported by FairVote, would set up state commissions to handle redistricting only once a decade.

December 20th 2005
Overhaul of state electoral system sought

Following on the heels of the defeat of redistricting reform in California, Republican and Democratic legislators plan on introducing legislation to create a citizens assembly for election reform and discuss proportional voting for the state.

December 11th 2005
A Dramatic Idea for Election Reform
New York Times

A Times reader highlights the fundamental weakness of any single-member district-based system: gerrymandering is unavoidable.

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