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N.H. House panel recommends killing bill that would bring back straight-ticket voting

Straight-ticket voting got no support yesterday from either Democrats or Republicans on the House Election Law Committee.

The panel voted, 15-0, to recommend the full House kill a bill that would bring back the straight-ticket ballot option, which the state eliminated in 2007.

“In New Hampshire, we have many, many opportunities to get to know who our candidates are, from president to the register of probate, all of those positions. And I think we also have a very astute electorate, that really wants to know who their candidates are,” said Rep. Melanie Levesque, a Brookline Democrat. “So I think it’s very important that we allow them to check off and look carefully at all of the candidates.”

Republican Rep. Shawn Jasper of Hudson, the House GOP whip, said he agreed with Levesque. He also said the straight-ticket option can create confusion for voters, especially in multi-seat districts.

“I don’t think that this is a very helpful process to have,” Jasper said.

Fifteen states allow voters the option of making a single mark to cast a straight-party ballot, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The bill to bring back straight-ticket voting in New Hampshire was introduced by Republican Rep. Jeanine Notter of Merrimack and sponsored by three other House Republicans.

One of them, Rep. Fred Rice of Hampton, told the committee last month that the option would provide a convenience for some voters.

“There are a number of voters who go into the polls and they say, ‘I know in advance, I’ve studied, I’ve made up my mind and I know that I certainly want to vote for all one party or the other,’ whatever their party may be,” Rice said at a Jan. 15 public hearing.

Nashua Rep. David Cote, a Democrat and chairman of the Election Law Committee, said the panel’s recommendation to kill the bill will appear on the consent calendar for an upcoming session of the full House.

(Ben Leubsdorf can be reached at 369-3307 or bleubsdorf@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @BenLeubsdorf.)

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